Police have come under attack in a further night of violence in some loyalist areas across Northern Ireland.
On Monday, petrol bombs were thrown at officers in Carrickfergus, while a car was set alight in the Waterside in Londonderry. Police have said the recent attacks were “clearly orchestrated”.
The PSNI is also investigating an “un-notified parade” involving masked men in Jervis Street in Portadown on Monday.
In the latest incidents, a group of about 20 young people gathered at the site of a car set on fire in Sperrin Park in Derry, a seventh night in eight in which there has been violence in the city. A fire was also lit in the middle of North Road in Carrickfergus, with petrol bombs being sporadically thrown at police.
Following a meeting between politicians, business groups and Ch Supt Darrin Jones on Monday, manager of Derry City Centre Initiative Jim Roddy appealed for an end to the “ongoing cycle of violence”. “It is clear that some of the young people who are involved in this criminal activity are unaware of the consequences of their actions and are being misled by adults with more sinister agendas,” he said in a statement. “This violence is putting lives at risk and together we feel we need speak out to ask those who are orchestrating this to stop now, before someone is seriously hurt or a life is lost.”
The police and political parties have repeatedly called for calm, with the disturbances blamed on loyalist frustrations over a PPS (Public Prosecution Service) decision not to prosecute people who attended the large-scale funeral of republican Bobby Storey in June 2020, as well as concerns about the NI Protocol in the Brexit deal.
The leaders of the DUP, UUP and TUV have called for Chief Constable Simon Byrne to resign over the PSNI’s handling of the funeral, which was attended by a number of senior Sinn Féin politicians, including Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill. The NI Protocol has increased checks and caused disruption for some goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
During the Easter weekend, 32 police officers were injured during violence in Belfast, Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus and Derry. The Police Federation said it could be potentially “career-impacting” for some of those who were hurt.
Chair Mark Lindsay has said there is “obviously paramilitary involvement” in the violence. Speaking on Monday, Ch Supt Beck said he would have “additional resources available” to deal with whatever may develop. However, he added: “There’s an opportunity to stop this. “I would encourage people with influence in those communities to put a stop to this.”
The senior officer added that police had been “successful in respect of criminal gangs” and the trouble was “perhaps a reaction from those involved in criminality”.