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Emergency meeting to be held after violence in Belfast, with bus set on fire

A 13-year-old boy was one of the nine people who were arrested following trouble in Belfast earlier this week and over the weekend.

Violent scenes have again resumed on the streets of Belfast ahead of an emergency meeting of the Northern Ireland Assembly, with a bus having been hijacked and set on fire and a photographer for the Belfast Telegraph attacked.

The scenes that occurred on Wednesday evening followed several nights of unrest within loyalist communities amid tensions over the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol within the UK and EU’s Brexit deal and the police’s handling of the alleged lockdown breaches by Sinn Fein at a funeral for the republican Bobby Storey.

This comes after clashes between police and attendees of a vigil for Sarah Everard were “distressing” and “alarming”, the policing minister has said. Kit Malthouse said that officers were “happy” to be held “accountable” by an independent investigation into Saturday night’s chaos.

Police have said that the bus was pelted with petrol bombs at the junction of Lanark Way and Shankill Road located in west Belfast, while stones were being thrown at officers and a press photographer had been assaulted nearby.

He tweeted: “I am deeply concerned by the scenes of violence in Northern Ireland, especially attacks on PSNI who are protecting the public and businesses, attacks on a bus driver and the assault of a journalist.

“The way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not violence or criminality.”

Crowds of up to 500 people had gathered as the incident unfolded.

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Chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Simon Byrne, tweeted: “The ongoing street disorder must stop.”

The chief executive of bus company Translink said that the driver had been “badly shaken” but was not hurt.

He said that all of passengers on the bus had gotten off when it was targeted and that all services within the area have been suspended until it is “safe” to restart operations.

This comes after a 24-year-old carer from Wales has become the first person in all of the UK to receive a dose of the Moderna vaccine as it has become the latest jab to be used as part the country’s coronavirus vaccination programme.

First Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, tweeted in response to a post by a journalist who said that they had been attacked by two masked men amid the violence.

“There is no justification for violence. It is wrong and should stop,” she said.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill had confirmed the meeting would take place on Thursday morning and had condemned the “huge distress” that was being caused to those communities that are involved.

A 13-year-old boy had been one of those nine people that were arrested when the trouble had flared up in loyalist parts of Greater Belfast and Londonderry earlier in the week and over the weekend.

Eve Cooper
Eve Cooper
I've been writing articles and stories for as long as I can remember and in the past few years I've had the fortune of turning that love & passion for writing into my job 🙂

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