Violence erupts in Belfast after week of disturbances in Derry

A senior NI police officer is calling for calm after eight police officers were injured during rioting in Sandy Row, south Belfast, tonight (2 April).

Saturday, 3rd April 2021, 10:11 am
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd April 2021 Loyalists involved in disturbances with the PSNI in the Donegall Road, Sandy Row area of south Belfast after the police moved in to disperse a crowd taking part in a protest at Shaftsbury Square. The loyalists said they were calling for the PSNI to be dismantled and telling the leaders in Stormont the the lockdown is dead. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

The trouble on Friday night came after four nights of disturbances erupting in predominantly unionist areas of the Waterside in Derry.

Belfast District Commander Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said late on Friday: “Police have been in attendance in Sandy Row since around 8pm this evening when a small local protest quickly developed into an attack on police.

“Eight officers have so far been injured after being subjected to a sustained attack by rioters who have thrown a number of objects at police, including heavy masonry, metal rods, fireworks and manhole covers. Their injuries include burns, head and leg injuries. Seven people have been arrested at the scene.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 2nd April 2021 Loyalists take part in a protest at Shaftsbury Square near Sandy Row in south Belfast as the PSNI moved in to disperse the crowd. The loyalists said they were calling for the PSNI to be dismantled and telling the leaders in Stormont the the lockdown is dead. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

“I am appealing to all those involved to stop this appalling behaviour immediately. Police are trying to protect those living in the Shaftesbury Square, Donegall Road and Sandy Row areas and it is completely unacceptable that my officers are coming under sustained attack.

“I would encourage anyone who has influence to use it now and stop the rioting before anyone else is injured, or worse.

“Local communities do not want to be dragged back to the past. They deserve to live in safe and peaceful areas, free from rioting, violence and wanton destruction of their communities.”

Throughout this week there has been violent disturbances in the Waterside area of Derry, including in various areas.

Eight officers were hurt during the protests on Friday night. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Police in Derry on Friday said they were investigating disorder in the Waterside area of the on Thursday night during which petrol bombs and masonry were thrown at officers.

Shortly after 9pm, it was reported youths with petrol bombs and masonry had gathered in the Rossdowney Road/Lincoln Court area where they placed pallets on the road and set them alight. Officers responded, and came under sustained attack.

During the disorder, a digger parked in the area was set alight and, when colleagues from the NIFRS responded, they also came under attack.

Derry City & Strabane District Commander, Chief Superintendent Darrin Jones said: “It is extremely disappointing that for four consecutive nights we have witnessed scenes of anti-social and criminal behaviour in the Waterside.

“These reckless attacks are not wanted by anyone and do nothing but cause harm and damage to the local community who we know just want to live in peace.

“I will again stress young people engaging in this type of criminal behaviour are risking, not only their own safety, but they also face the possibility of a criminal conviction which can have life changing consequences.

“We are appreciative of the efforts of those in helping to de-escalate the disorder this week.

“Our investigation continues, and I am appealing to parents and guardians, and all those who have influence, to help bring an end to the wanton destruction that we have seen in the Waterside this week. There is absolutely no justification for it and it has to stop.”

Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to call 101, and quote reference 2120 of 01/04/21.

Alternatively, a report can be submitted online using our non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/ Crimestoppers can also be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org/

DUP Foyle MLA Gary Middleton appealed for calm after police and firefighters were attacked in the Lincoln Court and Rossdowney Road area on Thursday.

He said the violence, like that which flared in Tullyally on Monday, Tuesday and Wedensday, is “counterproductive.”

“The overwhelming message that I want to get across is an appeal for calm,” he said.

“Obviously tensions are high, and obviously there are a number of factors around which the loyalist community are feeling frustration — such as the confidence in the PSNI and the handling of some incidents. But I want to emphasise the fact that I condemn violence and attacks on the PSNI. There are other ways that people can vent their frustration, in peaceful ways and democratic ways.”

He continued: “Going out and attacking the PSNI and damaging your community is not the way.”

The Foyle MLA added: “That is counterproductive to any cause, and it could cause serious injury or even death if people continue to throw petrol bombs or other missiles at police. That does not have majority support within the Waterside community.”

Foyle Sinn Fein MLA Martina Anderson meanwhile said: “Violence and anti-social behaviour which has taken place over three nights in Tullyally and the Lincoln Courts area must stop now.

“Reports of main roads being blocked, petrol bombs being thrown and an attempt to enter a nearby nationalist estate with iron bars are deeply concerning.

“There is no place for this type of activity and residents in nearby estates should not have to live in fear as a result.

“I would urge community and political leaders and the PSNI to step up and show leadership to put an end to this activity now.”