Northern Ireland news

Violence in west Belfast as loyalist protests resume

Violence broke out in west Belfast last night. Picture by Pacemaker

LOYALIST protests resumed across Northern Ireland last night, with disturbances breaking out in west Belfast.

A fire was lit in the middle of the Shankill Road, close to where a Metro bus was hijacked and set alight earlier this month.

Police also came under attack from youths throwing missiles.

A crowd of mainly boys and young men gathered at Lanark Way and the Shankill Road yesterday evening.

The PSNI said officers were continuing to monitor the area late last night.

Loyalist protests resumed in several towns, including in Newtownards and Bangor, Co Down.

Protesters held illegal parades and waved banners showing their opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol which has created a trade border in the Irish Sea.

In Newtownards, loyalists marched from the West Winds area to the town's police station.

Several hundred people were believed to have attended last night's protests.

Further demonstrations are believed to be planned in widespread action similar to the loyalist flag demonstrations of 2012/13.

As well as opposition to the protocol, loyalists are unhappy at the policing of veteran republican Bobby Storey's funeral in June last year and the decision not to prosecute any Sinn Féin members over the event.

Earlier protests sparked violence over Easter, with riots in several areas including Belfast, Derry and Newtownabbey.

Eighty-eight PSNI officers were injured and children as young as 13 were among those arrested in the disturbances.

Earlier this month, unnotified parades were held in areas including Ballymena in Co Antrim and Markethill and Portadown in Co Armagh. Masked men were pictured taking part.

Loyalist protests were paused for over a week following the death of Prince Philip but resumed last night.

Anti-protocol banners were also put up in several loyalist areas across the north on Sunday.

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

Loyalists vowed to resume widespread protests, claiming that the Northern Ireland Protocol has undermined the north's place within the UK.

The Parades Commission says while it "regulates parades and related protests... unnotified parades and related protests are a matter for the PSNI".

Loyalist paramilitaries previously also indicated they are operating a 'disengagement policy' and will not intervene to help police restore order.

During serious rioting on Belfast's Shankill Road and Sandy Row on Good Friday, senior UVF and UDA figures were seen looking on as youths attacked officers with petrol bombs and masonry.

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Northern Ireland news