Northern Ireland news

Riot police move in to west Belfast as bonfire wood removed

Riot police move into the Divis area of west Belfast.

RIOT police moved into the Divis area of west Belfast yesterday afternoon to protect contractors removing wood for a planned bonfire.

Around 20 Land Rovers with dozens of officers were involved in the operation to remove bonfire material being stored off Ross Road.

Masked contractors removed the wood during an operation that lasted several hours.

It is thought the material was to be moved to a different location for a bonfire planned for tonight to mark the anniversary of the introduction of internment with trial.

A small crowd of young people gathered as a dozen or so wooden pallets and other flammable material was removed.

Stones were thrown at police, who closed off Albert Street and parts of Ross Road for a time.

A fire also had to be extinguished by the Fire and Rescue Service close to the credit union at Ross Road, where young people set fire to material stored for the bonfire.

The bonfire has in the past been the scene of anti-social behaviour and there had been calls by residents for the material to be removed.

It was previously built at the site where Raidió Fáilte is now situated, but was expected to be moved to a different location close to the Welcome Centre on the Falls Road.

A number of small internment fires are expected to be set alight tonight, although the number of fires in nationalist areas has dropped dramatically in recent years.

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Northern Ireland news