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Brandon Lewis meets political leaders over Belfast disorder after Assembly unites to call for end to violence

  • Secretary of State speaks with Foster and O'Neill over unrest

  • MLAs recalled from their Easter recess
  • Scroll down for live updates

The Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis is holding emergency talks with political leaders here this afternoon in a bid to defuse tensions following a week of violent attacks on police.

It comes hours after the Northern Ireland Assembly passed a motion calling for an immediate end to recent violence and the support of the rule of law unanimously by oral vote.

Mr Lewis told BBC Radio Ulster’s Evening Extra there was no excuse for the violence.

“There have been real issues for people with the way the (Northern Ireland) Protocol is working in practice, not least of all people’s sense of identity,” he said.

“There were issues obviously last week with people’s views on the outcome of the independent DPP’s position. None of these things are an excuse for or justification for violence.

“If people have different views on things, there’s a political process that they should be following. That’s what the Executive is there for and what it should be working on.”

Mr Lewis added that he was “absolutely” open to visiting the site of Wednesday’s violence

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“I have been talking to people in that community and community leaders already, so I am absolutely prepared to continue doing that. “I’m really keen as well to see the EU play its part,” he added.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill told the same programme that she does not believe her attendance at Bobby Storey's funeral last summer has anything to do with the violence of recent days.

She said: "There's no justification whatsoever - and no equivocation in myself attending a funeral - for people attempting to murder a police officer and wreck their community.

"If people have issues with my attendance at a funeral there are avenues and ways which people can express concerns, we should not allow discontent with any situation to spill out into violence on our streets.

"I’m worried that any child thinks it's the right thing to do to go out and lift a petrol bomb and attack their community."

MLAs were recalled from their Easter recess following the past week of violence which culminated in disorder at a west Belfast interface.

Police said around 600 people were involved and petrol bombs, bottles, masonry, and fireworks were thrown. A bus was hijacked and petrol bombed and Belfast Telegraph photographer Kevin Scott attacked. Another two vehicles were arrested. Riot police fired six plastic baton rounds. Eight officers were injured and two men aged 18 and 28 arrested.

Paramilitary involvement, police said, was likely. They described it as "disturbing, unnecessary and unwanted".

Justice Minister Naomi Long described it as disturbing that children as young as 12 had been involved in confrontations with police in Northern Ireland, and said she was horrified to watch footage of adults “standing by cheering and goading and encouraging young people on as they wreaked havoc in their own community”.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said the scenes witnessed across Northern Ireland were “totally unacceptable”.

She said: “Today is not the time to rehearse the arguments in the last few weeks. We should all know that when politics are perceived to fail, those who fill the vacuum cause despair."

Northern Ireland riots: Violent clashes at Belfast Shankill, Springfield Road interface Close

A Loyalist and Nationalist rioter confront each other at Lanark Way interface in Belfast on Wednesday night. Loyalists had blocked traffic during a protest which then erupted into a riot. Pic Pacemaker

A Loyalist and Nationalist rioter confront each other at Lanark Way interface in Belfast on Wednesday night. Loyalists had blocked traffic during a protest which then erupted into a riot. Pic Pacemaker

The remains of a burnt out bus on Belfast's Shankill Road. Pic Presseye

The remains of a burnt out bus on Belfast's Shankill Road. Pic Presseye

General view of a burnt out bus on Belfast’s Shankill Road. 

Disruption has been taking place close to where a number of loyalist protesters had earlier gathered.

Police confirmed a vehicle was set alight at the junction of Lanark Way and the Shankill Road in the west of the city.

Protests have been taking place across Northern Ireland by loyalists in the past week. 

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

General view of a burnt out bus on Belfast’s Shankill Road. Disruption has been taking place close to where a number of loyalist protesters had earlier gathered. Police confirmed a vehicle was set alight at the junction of Lanark Way and the Shankill Road in the west of the city. Protests have been taking place across Northern Ireland by loyalists in the past week. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th April 2021

General view of a burnt out bus on Belfast’s Shankill Road. 

Disruption has been taking place close to where a number of loyalist protesters had earlier gathered.

Police confirmed a vehicle was set alight at the junction of Lanark Way and the Shankill Road in the west of the city.

Protests have been taking place across Northern Ireland by loyalists in the past week. 

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th April 2021 General view of a burnt out bus on Belfast’s Shankill Road. Disruption has been taking place close to where a number of loyalist protesters had earlier gathered. Police confirmed a vehicle was set alight at the junction of Lanark Way and the Shankill Road in the west of the city. Protests have been taking place across Northern Ireland by loyalists in the past week. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th April 2021

General view of a burnt out bus on Belfast’s Shankill Road. 

Disruption has been taking place close to where a number of loyalist protesters had earlier gathered.

Police confirmed a vehicle was set alight at the junction of Lanark Way and the Shankill Road in the west of the city.

Protests have been taking place across Northern Ireland by loyalists in the past week. 

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th April 2021 General view of a burnt out bus on Belfast’s Shankill Road. Disruption has been taking place close to where a number of loyalist protesters had earlier gathered. Police confirmed a vehicle was set alight at the junction of Lanark Way and the Shankill Road in the west of the city. Protests have been taking place across Northern Ireland by loyalists in the past week. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/4/2021:  
A youngster cycles through the debris and petrol bombs as Loyalist and Nationalist rioters confronted each other at Lanark Way interface in Belfast on Wednesday night. Loyalists had blocked traffic during a protest which then erupted into a riot.
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/4/2021: A youngster cycles through the debris and petrol bombs as Loyalist and Nationalist rioters confronted each other at Lanark Way interface in Belfast on Wednesday night. Loyalists had blocked traffic during a protest which then erupted into a riot. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/4/2021: 
PSNI riot squad officers try to keep Nationalist and Loyalists apart at Lanark Way interface in Belfast during a riot on Wednesday night. Loyalists had blocked traffic during a protest which then erupted into a riot.
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/4/2021: PSNI riot squad officers try to keep Nationalist and Loyalists apart at Lanark Way interface in Belfast during a riot on Wednesday night. Loyalists had blocked traffic during a protest which then erupted into a riot. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/4/2021: 
A Nationalist youth attacks a line of PSNI landrovers that separated Loyalist and Nationalist rioters at Lanark Way interface in Belfast during a riot on Wednesday night. Loyalists had blocked traffic during a protest which then erupted into a riot.
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/4/2021: A Nationalist youth attacks a line of PSNI landrovers that separated Loyalist and Nationalist rioters at Lanark Way interface in Belfast during a riot on Wednesday night. Loyalists had blocked traffic during a protest which then erupted into a riot. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 08/04/2021
A Night of  violence on both sides of an interface in the loyalist Shankill and nationalist Springfield Road areas on Wednesday evening, During several hours of disorder police officers were attacked, petrol bombs were thrown and a bus was burnt.
Pic Pacemaker



































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 08/04/2021 A Night of violence on both sides of an interface in the loyalist Shankill and nationalist Springfield Road areas on Wednesday evening, During several hours of disorder police officers were attacked, petrol bombs were thrown and a bus was burnt. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/4/2021: 
PSNI riot squad officers charge a group of  Nationalist rioters on the Springfield Road, Belfast on Wednesday night after they had clashed with Loyalists at the Lanark Way interface. Loyalists had blocked traffic during a protest which then erupted into a riot.
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/4/2021: PSNI riot squad officers charge a group of Nationalist rioters on the Springfield Road, Belfast on Wednesday night after they had clashed with Loyalists at the Lanark Way interface. Loyalists had blocked traffic during a protest which then erupted into a riot. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 08/04/2021
A Night of  violence on both sides of an interface in the loyalist Shankill and nationalist Springfield Road areas on Wednesday evening, During several hours of disorder police officers were attacked, petrol bombs were thrown and a bus was burnt.
Pic Pacemaker



































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 08/04/2021 A Night of violence on both sides of an interface in the loyalist Shankill and nationalist Springfield Road areas on Wednesday evening, During several hours of disorder police officers were attacked, petrol bombs were thrown and a bus was burnt. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 08/04/2021
A Night of  violence on both sides of an interface in the loyalist Shankill and nationalist Springfield Road areas on Wednesday evening, During several hours of disorder police officers were attacked, petrol bombs were thrown and a bus was burnt.
Pic Pacemaker



































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 08/04/2021 A Night of violence on both sides of an interface in the loyalist Shankill and nationalist Springfield Road areas on Wednesday evening, During several hours of disorder police officers were attacked, petrol bombs were thrown and a bus was burnt. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/4/2021: 
A man films a line PSNI landrovers that were keeping Nationalist and Loyalist rioters apart on the Springfield Road, Belfast on Wednesday night after they had clashed t the Lanark Way interface. Loyalists had blocked traffic during a protest which then erupted into a riot.
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/4/2021: A man films a line PSNI landrovers that were keeping Nationalist and Loyalist rioters apart on the Springfield Road, Belfast on Wednesday night after they had clashed t the Lanark Way interface. Loyalists had blocked traffic during a protest which then erupted into a riot. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 08/04/2021
A Night of  violence on both sides of an interface in the loyalist Shankill and nationalist Springfield Road areas on Wednesday evening, During several hours of disorder police officers were attacked, petrol bombs were thrown and a bus was burnt.
Pic Pacemaker



































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 08/04/2021 A Night of violence on both sides of an interface in the loyalist Shankill and nationalist Springfield Road areas on Wednesday evening, During several hours of disorder police officers were attacked, petrol bombs were thrown and a bus was burnt. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 08/04/2021
A Night of  violence on both sides of an interface in the loyalist Shankill and nationalist Springfield Road areas on Wednesday evening, During several hours of disorder police officers were attacked, petrol bombs were thrown and a bus was burnt.
Pic Pacemaker



































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 08/04/2021 A Night of violence on both sides of an interface in the loyalist Shankill and nationalist Springfield Road areas on Wednesday evening, During several hours of disorder police officers were attacked, petrol bombs were thrown and a bus was burnt. Pic Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER BELFAST  07/04/2021
A bus is hi jacked and set on fire during rioting on the Shankill road this evening.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 07/04/2021 A bus is hi jacked and set on fire during rioting on the Shankill road this evening.

PACEMAKER BELFAST  07/04/2021
A bus is hi jacked and set on fire during rioting on the Shankill road this evening.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 07/04/2021 A bus is hi jacked and set on fire during rioting on the Shankill road this evening.

Nationalists hurl missiles the PSNI on the Springfield Road

Nationalists hurl missiles the PSNI on the Springfield Road

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

A car bursts through the Peace Gates in Lanark Way on Wednesday night (Liam McBurney/PA)

A car bursts through the Peace Gates in Lanark Way on Wednesday night (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

A car drives past the wreckage of a Translink Metrobus on fire on the Shankill Road (Liam McBurney/PA)

A car drives past the wreckage of a Translink Metrobus on fire on the Shankill Road (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

PSNI officers and Land Rovers on the nationalist side of the Springfield Road in Belfast after dispersing people from the area (Liam McBurney/PA)

PSNI officers and Land Rovers on the nationalist side of the Springfield Road in Belfast after dispersing people from the area (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

/

A Loyalist and Nationalist rioter confront each other at Lanark Way interface in Belfast on Wednesday night. Loyalists had blocked traffic during a protest which then erupted into a riot. Pic Pacemaker

Here is how the day unfolded:

Belfast Telegraph


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