Violent clashes erupt in Northern Ireland for third straight night

Violent clashes in Northern Ireland erupted over the weekend amid increasing tensions in a region historically plagued with sectarian violence.

Sunday marked a third night of disorder in the cities of Belfast and Derry/Londonderry, where police were targeted with petrol bombs and cars hijacked and set alight.

The clashes involved children as young as 12, according to a statement from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

On Saturday night 30 petrol bombs were thrown at police in Newtownabbey, Belfast and three vehicles were hijacked and set on fire, police said, in what they described as an “orchestrated attack.”

It followed riots on Friday across both cities following a decision not to prosecute leaders of the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein for allegedly breaking coronavirus restrictions by attending the funeral of a former leading IRA figure during lockdown last year.

It also comes amid rising anger over a specific part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, called the Northern Ireland Protocol, which aims to eliminate the need for border controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member.

Instead, it creates a de facto border down the Irish Sea as goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain are subject to EU checks, a move which has angered pro-British Unionists.