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Northern Ireland government meets as riots escalate – Times of India

BELFAST: North IrelandThe decentralized government will meet to be informed of the nocturnal outbreaks of street violence which intensified on Wednesday with sectarian clashes, continued attacks on police and the burning of a hijacked bus.
The violence comes amid growing frustration among many pro-UK trade unionists over new post-Brexit trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK which many believe could spark violent protests.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “deeply concerned” by the violence, which has injured dozens of police officers in recent days. His Irish counterpart, Micheal Martin, called on Dublin, London and all parties in Northern Ireland to work together to ease tensions and restore calm.
Britain’s decentralized executive, a mandatory power-sharing coalition led by Irish nationalists and their Unionist rivals, will meet later Thursday to discuss the clashes, Deputy Prime Minister Michelle O’Neill said.
“Those involved in violence, criminal damage, manipulation of our young people and attacks on the police must stop,” O’Neill of the Irish Nationalist Party Sinn Fein said on Twitter on Wednesday.
Crowds of young people in a pro-British part of Belfast torched the hijacked bus on a busy street on Wednesday around 6:00 p.m. GMT. The driver and passengers are unharmed.
The incident took place near one of Belfast’s so-called ‘peace walls’ which divides some Irish nationalist and unionist communities. Large groups threw fireworks, bricks and gasoline bombs at each side of the large structure.
Parts of the region remain deeply divided along sectarian lines, 23 years after a peace deal largely ended three decades of bloodshed. Many Catholic nationalists aspire to unification with Ireland while Protestant trade unionists want to stay in the UK.
While politicians of all stripes condemned the clashes on Wednesday, Northern Ireland’s main ruling parties blamed each other.
Sinn Fein and others accused Prime Minister Arlene Foster’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of stoking tensions with their staunch opposition to new trade barriers which many trade unionists say erases part of their identity.
The DUP in turn highlighted the police decision not to prosecute Irish nationalists in Sinn Fein for a large burial last year which violated Covid-19 regulations. They also called on the Northern Ireland police chief to step down on this issue.

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