Petrol bombs thrown at police in Belfast who respond with water cannons

8 April 2021, 21:28 | Updated: 13 April 2021, 05:21

Rioters were seen throwing fireworks at police officers in west Belfast
Rioters were seen throwing fireworks at police officers in west Belfast. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Rioters in Belfast have thrown petrol bombs and fireworks at police who responded with water cannons during another night of unrest in Northern Ireland.

The gangs in west Belfast were blasted with a water cannon by the police, as disorder once again stirred on the streets of the Northern Irish capital amid rising tensions.

Stones, fireworks and petrol bombs were thrown at officers by youths who had gathered on the nationalist Springfield Road, close to where Wednesday night's riots took place.

Those involved were warned by police to "disperse immediately or the water cannon will be used".

However, those present continued to fire missiles at police and after several warnings the water cannon deployed. Some of those present jeered before fleeing as the water jet came closer.

A heavy police presence was in operation on Thursday night, with water cannon, police dogs and the riot squad in place in a bid to quell another night of unrest in the area.

The latest violence came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Irish Premier Micheal Martin and US President Joe Biden called for a calming of tensions.

Watch: NI Secretary says he has 'absolute confidence' in PSNI amid violence

Explained: Why has violence broken out in NI and what is being done?

Police responded to the rioters by firing a water cannon at them
Police responded to the rioters by firing a water cannon at them. Picture: PA
Police in Northern Ireland have been dealing with the unrest for a week
Police in Northern Ireland have been dealing with the unrest for a week. Picture: PA

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers were seen holding riot shields and being pelted with missiles before causing the youths to flee by charging at them with dogs.

Justice Minister Naomi Long has issued a fresh call for calm after what she called "depressing and reckless" scenes.

She tweeted: "More attacks on police, this time from nationalist youths. Utterly reckless and depressing to see more violence at interface areas tonight.

"My heart goes out to those living in the area who are living with this fear and disturbance. This needs to stop now before lives are lost."

The PSNI later tweeted: "Officers are dealing with an ongoing incident on the Springfield Road in West Belfast and asking the public to avoid the area."

Read more: Bus hijacked and set on fire during another day of unrest in Belfast

Watch: Angry caller tears into Brexit amid disturbances in Northern Ireland

Wednesday night's violence saw clashes between both communities along the peace wall that separates the unionist Shankill Road from the nationalist Springfield Road.

But Thursday night's unrest appeared to be confined to nationalists.

Groups of community activists were seen attempting to prevent access to the gate of the peace line where clashes took place the previous night.

A heavy police presence was in operation on Thursday night, with water cannon, police dogs and the riot squad in place in a bid to quell another night of unrest in the area.

PSNI officers were seen holding riot shields and being pelted with missiles before causing the youths to flee by charging at them with dogs.

Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland Press Photographers Association (NIPPA) has condemned the attack on photojournalist Kevin Scott.

Mr Scott, visuals editor at the Belfast Telegraph, was assaulted and verbally abused by two masked men during the course of his work while covering the riots in west Belfast on Wednesday night.

NIPPA chairman Liam McBurney said: "Our members want to send solidarity to Kevin Scott and condemn his cowardly attackers in the strongest possible terms.

"An attack on one of us is an attack on us all. Those behind this assault did so in the hope of silencing a hard-working journalist and hiding their own actions from the world.

"Any attempts to prevent journalists from doing their job are completely unacceptable. It has not worked in the past and it will not succeed now."