In west Belfast on Wednesday, protesters collided
along the so-called “line of peace” that divides predominantly unionist and nationalist communities, with the police struggling to close a gate designed to separate the areas.
A bus was set on fire on Lanark Way, near the intersection with Shankill Road, policeman said
. Photos and video
The scene showed young people on both sides of the gate firing projectiles, including gas pumps.
In a statement, Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin condemned the violence and “attacks on the police”, adding that “the only way forward is to address the issues of concern by peaceful and democratic means”.
“Now is the time for the two governments and leaders on all sides to work together to defuse tensions and restore calm,” said Martin.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said
he was “deeply concerned by the scenes of violence” in Northern Ireland.
“The way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not violence or criminality,” said Johnson on Twitter.
Tensions have grown in Northern Ireland since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, creating the potential for a border between the British-ruled north and Ireland’s Republican in the south, which remains in the EU. Borderlessness was seen as a key element of post-1998 peace, which followed three decades of sectarian violence.
Under the Northern Ireland Protocol to the Brexit withdrawal agreement, a de facto border was created in the Irish Sea, with goods entering Northern Ireland from mainland Britain subject to EU checks, a move that angered union members. , who accused London of abandoning them.
Speaking to CNN, Democratic Unionist Party MP Sammy Wilson asked Johnson to “tear up the deal that breaks the UK, tear up the deal that breaks all the promises you made to the people of Northern Ireland.”
Last month, the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC), a grouping of union paramilitaries, said it was withdrawing its support for the Good Friday Agreement, which ended the problems.
Although the LCC said the opposition would be peaceful, the letter said the groups would not return “until our rights under the Agreement are restored and the (Brexit) protocol amended to ensure unrestricted access to goods, services and citizens throughout the UK”.
LCC President David Campbell said recently: “It is very easy for things to get out of control, which is why it is essential for dialogue to happen.”
Writing on Twitter
on Wednesday, Mary Lou McDonald, Irish lawmaker and leader of Sinn Fein, said: “a united voice for an end to all violence and for the restoration of calm is the only acceptable posture of all political leaders. Attacks and intimidation must end. “
CNN’s Nic Robertson and James Griffiths contributed reporting.