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Irish leaders call for calm over violence overnight

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BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) – Young people set fire to a hijacked bus and threw petrol bombs at police during the fourth and fourth night of a week of violent violence in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where Britain’s exit from the European Union was unregulated. restless political balance.

On Wednesday evening, people marched in two directions with bricks, fireworks, gasoline bombs, and a concrete “wall of peace” dividing the Protestant, British, Catholic, and Irish nationalist quarters.

Northern Ireland Police Assistant Const Onathan Roberts said several hundred people had gathered on either side of the gate, where “the mob was committing serious crimes: ‘attacking police, attacking each other’.”

He said a total of 55 police officers were injured during the riots overnight.

Recent violence, mainly in loyalist Protestant areas, has erupted amid rising tensions over Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland amid deteriorating relations between the Belfast government and the separation of Protestant-Catholic authorities. Last year, Britain’s economic split from the EU upset the political balance in Northern Ireland, where some identified as British, wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom, and some saw themselves as Irish, seeking to join the neighboring Republic of Ireland, an EU member.

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris John Onson condemned the riots, and the government in Belfast, Northern Ireland, held an emergency meeting on Thursday on the violence.

John Onson called for calm, saying “the way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not violence or crime.” Northern Ireland Prime Minister Arlene Foster of the pro-British Democratic Union Party and First Deputy Prime Minister Michelle O’Neill of the Irish Nationalist Party Sinn Féin both condemned the riots and the attacks on police.

The riots erupted on the last weekend of the holiday in Belfast ոնդ London, a nearby pro-British trade union area known as Derry, where cars were set on fire and grenade launchers and petrol bombs were hurled at police.

Authorities have accused illegal armed groups of harassing young people.

“We saw young people taking part in serious riots, committing serious crimes, supporting them, encouraging them,, the actions were sometimes organized by adults,” said Roberts, a senior police officer.

The new UK-EU trade deal has introduced customs-border controls on some goods transported from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK. The agreement was intended to avoid inspections in Northern Ireland, as the open Irish border facilitated the peace process. On the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The agreement ended decades of violence involving Irish Republicans, British loyalists and the British Armed Forces, in which more than 3,000 people were killed. But unionists say the new inspections mark a new frontier in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. They fear that they will damage the region’s place in the United Kingdom; they may strengthen ties with the Republic of Ireland by strengthening the call for a united Ireland. ,

And Britain, և the EU has expressed concern about how the agreement works, և the Democratic Union Party, which leads the Government of Northern Ireland, is calling for its repeal.

Katie Hayward, a professor at the University of Belfast in Queens and a senior fellow at the Changing Europe Research Center in the United Kingdom, says trade unionists believe “the union is in grave jeopardy, that Northern Ireland’s place in the union is under threat, they are betraying themselves”. are in London. “

The Unionists are also angry over the decision of the police not to prosecute Sinn Féin politicians who attended the funeral of the former commander of the Irish Republican Army in June. The funeral of Bobby Story brought in large numbers of people, despite coronavirus rules banning mass gatherings.

The main trade union parties have demanded the resignation of the Northern Ireland Police Chief amid controversy, claiming he has lost the trust of their community.

“You have a very carbonated political atmosphere in which those who try to demand calm and restraint are kind of weakening,” Hayward said.

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Lawless reports from London.

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