PSNI respond to more unrest in loyalist areas of Co Antrim after cars hijacked and burnt out

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Police appealed for calm amidst more violent scenes.

A SECOND NIGHT of disorder has taken place on the streets of Northern Ireland, during which the PSNI responded to a series of situations in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim.

Three cars were hijacked and set on fire in the loyalist O’Neill/Doagh Road area yesterday evening as a large crowd of onlookers gathered to watch the unrest.

Video footage also emerged of cars being hijacked and burned out and a police van being targeted.

The PSNI appealed for calm in the area and asked anyone with any influence in the community to try to ensure young people do not get caught up in criminality.

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland also called for an end of the violence, saying people destroying their own communities is “not the way to protest or vent”.

It comes after eight people were arrested and 27 police officers injured during riots in Belfast and Derry on Friday night.

Fifteen officers were injured in Belfast, while 12 officers were hurt in Derry after being targeted by mainly young people.

Derry City and Strabane Area Commander Chief Superintendent Darrin Jones said police received reports on Friday night of youths gathering in the areas of Nelson Drive and Tullyally in the city.

There was also a fifth successive night of disturbances in the unionist Waterside area of the city.

In Belfast, two boys aged 13 and 14 were among eight people arrested in connection with riots in a loyalist area of Belfast on Friday night.

Police said last night that seven people including three teenage boys had been charged with riot over the Sandy Row disturbances.

Four adults – three men, aged 25, 21 and 18 years old, and a woman, aged 19 – are also due to appear at Belfast Magistrates’ Court later this month.

Three teenagers, aged 17, 14 and 13, are due to appear at Belfast Youth Court on the same date.

Police said 15 officers were injured on Friday night after being targeted by a crowd of mainly young people in Sandy Row, throwing stones, fireworks, flares, manhole covers and petrol bombs.

Belfast District Commander, Chief Superintendent Simon Walls, said “a small local protest quickly developed into an attack on police officers” and that at points there were up to 300 people of all ages on the streets.

He called for calm, urging anyone with influence in the loyalist community to dissuade young people from causing violence and harm.

He said: “I’m not going to enter into dialogue about political commentary.

“What I would ask is that people with influence, people in local communities, would dissuade young people, or anyone else, intent on causing violence or intent on harming police officers.”

He described it as a “real tragedy” that children as young as 13 and 14 were among those arrested.

Political leaders called for calm over the Easter weekend following the riots.

Stormont’s First Minister Arlene Foster urged young people “not to get drawn into disorder”, saying violence “will not make things better”.

“I know that many of our young people are hugely frustrated by the events of this last week but causing injury to police officers will not make things better,” the DUP leader said.

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“And I send my strong support to all of the rank-and-file police officers that are on duty over this Easter weekend.

“I appeal to our young people not to get drawn into disorder which will lead to them having criminal convictions and blighting their own lives.”

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis described the unrest as “completely unacceptable”.

“Violence is never the answer. There is no place for it in society,” he said.

“It is unwanted, unwarranted and I fully support the PSNI appeal for calm.”

The disorder has flared amid ongoing tensions within loyalism across Northern Ireland.

Loyalists and unionists are angry about post-Brexit trading arrangements which they claim have created barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Tensions ramped up further this week following a controversial decision not to prosecute 24 Sinn Féin politicians for attending a large-scale republican funeral during Covid-19 restrictions.

All the main unionist parties have demanded the resignation of PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne, claiming he has lost the confidence of their community.

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A car hijacked by loyalists protesters burns in Newtownabbey

A car hijacked by loyalists protesters burns in Newtownabbey

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