Leaders’ appeals for calm went unnoticed on Saturday as violence erupted in loyalist parts of Northern Ireland for yet another successive night, amid anger over Brexit and the policing of a formerly senior IRA figure’s funeral.
Three cars were hijacked and set alight in Newtownabbey, on the northern outskirts of Belfast, with the burning shells of vehicles pictured blocking the road at the Cloughfern roundabout, where a crowd gathered.
Police reportedly closed off the surrounding roads before moving in on the roundabout, where footage publicised by the Police Federation for Northern Ireland showed masked men running over to throw petrol bombs and other projectiles at an armoured police van from close range, and punching and kicking the vehicle.
It came hours after Stormont’s first minister, Arlene Foster, and the Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, called for an end to the violence, after police said a riot involving up to 300 people at the unionist Sandy Row area in south Belfast left 15 officers injured.
Chief Superintendent Simon Walls, Belfast district commander, said rioters threw “heavy masonry, metal rods, fireworks and manhole covers” at police in a “sustained attack”, with officers suffering “burns, head and leg injuries”.
Of the seven people arrested and charged with riot, two were young boys aged 13 and 14, police said.