The Northern Ireland government met in an emergency meeting on Thursday, condemning the violence as “completely unacceptable and unjustifiable.” Parliament also comes together.
In the past six nights there has been riots and 55 officers have been injured. Wednesday’s violence in Belfast also injured a photojournalist and set a bus on fire. Irish republicans and pro-British unionists bombarded each other and the police with Molotov cocktails.
Republicans want to establish an independent republic, encompassing the entire island of Ireland. The group consists mainly of Catholics. At the other end of the spectrum are the unionists who want to honor the United Kingdom, or the union between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since Ireland gained independence from the union in 1921, the theme has split the northern part of the island.
The Northern Ireland government, which includes both unionists and republicans, issued a joint statement after an emergency session condemning the violence. “We are very concerned about the events we have seen on our streets over the past week,” write the ministers. “Attacks on police officers, public services and communities are regrettable and must stop.”
A police car is set on fire.
Concerned reactions were heard not only from Belfast, but also from Dublin and London at the renewed tensions between the pro-British community and Irish Republicans.
Other regions, such as Derry, Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus and Ballymena, have also seen violence in recent days.
Tensions in Northern Ireland have been mounting for some time as the country grapples with border controls between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom that came after Brexit. In order to avoid the creation of an EU external border with border posts and controls between the Republic of Ireland and the British North, it has been given special status for the time being. This does require controls on trade between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. The unionists feel betrayed by this.
The game boiled over when it became known that members of Sinn Fein will not bear any consequences for attending the funeral of a former IRA member in June. That funeral, attended by 2,000 people, did not follow corona rules. Also in attendance was Deputy Prime Minister Michelle O’Neill. She apologized for her presence. The IRA was a paramilitary group fighting for a united Ireland.
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