Northern Ireland news

Fresh trouble breaks out in west Belfast

 PSNI vehicles and loyalist protesters during further unrest on Lanark Way in Belfast. Picture date: MondayApril 19, 2021.
Rebecca Black and David Young, PA

Fresh trouble broke out in west Belfast on Monday evening.

Furniture was set on fire in the middle of the Shankill Road close to where a bus was set alight earlier this month.

Police are in attendance monitoring a crowd gathered across Lanark Way and the Shankill Road on the loyalist side of the nearby peace line.

There were reports that officers came under sporadic attack.

Meanwhile, images have emerged of a loyalist protest in Newtownards, Co Down.

Loyalists were pictured holding an anti-Northern Ireland Protocol banner walking from the West Winds area to Newtownards police station.

Earlier the Loyalist Communities Council held a small demonstration outside Irish government offices in Belfast.

Loyalists have vowed to resume protest action against post-Brexit trading arrangements that have created new barriers and bureaucracy on trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

They claim the Northern Ireland Protocol has undermined the region’s place within the Union.

It comes after a break of around a week, following a succession of days where violence broke out following a number of loyalist protests across Northern Ireland.

 Loyalist protesters during further unrest on Lanark Way in Belfast. Picture date: MondayApril 19, 2021.

The worst of the trouble came on both sides of the peace wall gates at Lanark Way on Wednesday April 7 and Thursday April 8 where police used plastic bullets and water cannon against the crowds.

Protests were temporarily paused following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Loyalist anger at the protocol has been cited as one of the main factors behind the violence that erupted earlier this month.

Another was the decision not to prosecute 24 Sinn Fein members for Covid-19 breaches after they attended a mass republican funeral during the pandemic.

There are also more long-standing concerns held by some loyalists that they have missed out on the gains of the peace process in areas such as jobs, investment and housing.

Nationalists reject the contentions and insist their communities experience just as many problems with poverty.

The violence was unanimously condemned across the Stormont Assembly after it was recalled from Easter recess for a special meeting on April 8.

It was also condemned by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Irish premier Micheal Martin, as well as church leaders.

Labour shadow secretary of state Louise Haigh has called for fresh talks to be called to resolve the issues.

 A fire on the Shankill Road in Belfast during further unrest. Picture date: MondayApril 19, 2021.

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