Violence in unionist areas across Derry, Belfast ‘unjustified and unjustifiable’
The Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Louise Haigh has branded the violence in unionist areas “reprehensible and unjustified”.
The Labour MP was speaking following a meeting with frontline police representatives on Tuesday.
The week of disturbances is set to be discussed today, Wednesday, at a meeting of the Policing Board, while Stormont is to be recalled to discuss the matter following a motion tabled by the Alliance Party.
PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne is to update the Policing Board on the current situation this afternoon.
Tuesday night saw a lull in the nightly violence in Derry’s Waterside, however over the past week, 41 PSNI officers have been injured in Derry and elsewhere across the north as masonry, petrol bombs and other missiles were lobbed at officers in unionist areas. On Monday night in the city two cars were torched and a taxi ferrying a passenger hit with a brick, while police officers were again targeted.
Police have also come under attack in Belfast, Carrickfergus, Newtonabbey and other areas.
Some politicians have linked the violent attacks to frustration over the NI Brexit Protocol and the PPS decision that no-one can be prosecuted over a Republican funeral in Belfast last summer.
However echoing the views of many, Ms. Haigh branded “this reprehensible violence is unjustified and unjustifiable”.
“It serves no purpose and is risking the lives of frontline workers,” she said.
“As a former Special Constable, it is sickening to see officers subjected to violent attacks simply for doing their job.
“The concerns and frustrations that communities are feeling must be addressed through dialogue and constitutional politics alone. Violence only serves to undermine the legitimate concerns many have.
“A clear message must be sent that there is simply no excuse for violence or assaulting frontline officers.”
NI Justice Minister Naomi Long has also condemned recent attacks on the police and urged those involved to step back from violence.
Naomi Long said: “I am appalled at the violence that has been demonstrated towards police officers, who day and daily put themselves on the front line to protect communities and keep people safe. They should be supported by all of us for doing their job, not attacked because of it.
“I have spoken with the Chief Constable to assure him of my full support and my thoughts are with the 41 officers who have suffered injuries as a result of these mindless attacks. There is simply no excuse for violence. It should not be tolerated and it must stop before lives are lost.
“The scenes we have witnessed over the past few nights have resulted in nothing but property destroyed and lives endangered. Once again we see adults drawing children and young people into violence and disorder.
“All too sadly, there are young people who left home with a clean record and will be waking up in the days ahead looking at the prospect of a criminal record, the consequences of which will stay with them for the rest of their life.”