By Vatican News staff reporter
They are scenes many thought had been consigned to history; but Wednesday night’s violence in Belfast demonstrated just how fragile peace can be.
In a fourth night of unrest, rioters set a hijacked bus on fire and a press photographer was attacked.
Youths were seen throwing petrol bombs at police in the loyalist Shankill Road, with disturbances also taking place in the nationalist Springfield Road area of the city.
The violence has been condemned across the political spectrum. In a tweet, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson appealed for calm and said he was “deeply concerned at the scenes of violence,” while Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney described the unrest as “very disturbing” and called on Northern Ireland’s political and community leaders to work together to ease tensions.
Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster, of the Democratic Unionist Party, and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Fein both condemned the disorder and attacks on police.
Concerns for peace
Northern Ireland’s power-sharing Executive was due to meet on Thursday to be briefed on the latest unrest as well as the disturbances that took place over Easter.
The Police Federation for Northern Ireland has warned that the violence could set society here back years, while the Chief Constable of the Police Service (PSNI) Simon Byrne said he was open to dialogue with anyone who is willing to work with him to resolve the issues facing the community.
Causes of unrest
The unrest over the past week is being blamed on a number of issues, including the Northern Ireland Protocol contained in the Brexit deal, as well as loyalist anger over a Public Prosecution Service decision not to prosecute people who attended the large-scale funeral of republican Bobby Storey in June 2020 during Coronavirus restrictions.