Northern Ireland news

Deputy first minister `worried about weekend ahead'

PSNI officers at Alliance Avenue, Belfast on Friday after the discovery of a suspicious object
Guest Newsdesk

THE deputy first minister has said she is "worried about the weekend ahead" amid ongoing violence on Northern Ireland's streets.

Michelle O'Neill said she welcomed that there was a unity of purpose across all political leaders to say that the disorder was wrong and it needed to stop.

A week of violence has left 74 police officers injured.

Ms O'Neill's comments came as planned loyalist protests appeared to be postponed last night as a mark of respect to Prince Philip.

Social media posts urged people to stay home but added that loyalist voices would be heard "in the days and weeks ahead".

There were reports of minor incidents in some areas while there was a bomb alert in north Belfast.

Homes were evacuated following the discovery of a suspicious object at Alliance Avenue. The road was closed in both directions.

Meanwhile, detectives investigating disorder in the Lanark Way area of west Belfast on Thursday charged two men - aged 24 and 32 - with rioting. The 32 year old was also charged with possession of a petrol bomb in suspicious circumstances. They are due to appear before Belfast Magistrates' Court today.

"I'm worried about the weekend ahead. We all need to be very careful and very consciously try to do all we can to prevent this happening," Ms O'Neill said.

"I hope and I urge all young people to not engage, do not allow yourself to be used or manipulated in any sort of way, and to stay off the streets, stay home and stay safe."

She added that she thought there was a strong role for the Irish and British governments, as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement.

"It's really, really important that we stand shoulder to shoulder and say no to this type of criminal behaviour, and that we don't allow our children to be sucked in by criminal gangs who are orchestrating some of what we see on our streets," she said.

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