Boris Johnson ‘deeply concerned’ after police attacked as disorder resumes in Belfast
rime Minister Boris Johnson has condemned violence that again broke out on the streets of Northern Ireland, after a bus was hijacked and set on fire.
The bus was set alight after being pelted with petrol bombs at the junction of Lanark Way and Shankill Road in west Belfast, the PSNI said.
Stones were thrown at police while a press photographer was assaulted nearby during the course of their work on Wednesday evening.
It was one of a number of incidents on Wednesday evening that took place on the peace line street that links the loyalist Shankill Road with the nationalist Springfield Road.
Writing on Twitter, Mr Johnson said: “I am deeply concerned by the scenes of violence in Northern Ireland, especially attacks on PSNI who are protecting the public and businesses, attacks on a bus driver and the assault of a journalist.
“The way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not violence or criminality.”
It follows several nights of unrest in loyalist communities amid tensions over the Northern Ireland Protocol on Brexit and the PSNI’s handling of alleged coronavirus regulation breaches by Sinn Fein at the funeral of republican Bobby Storey.
First Minister Arlene Foster also condemned the attack on Twitter, saying: “There is no justification for violence. It is wrong and should stop.”
Minister for Infrastructure Nichola Mallon described the attack on the bus as “sickening”.
She said: “Those attacking their own communities and their own public services are achieving nothing and if this doesn’t stop now it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed.
“Tonight with deep regret Translink has had to suspended some services in Belfast due to ongoing disturbances.
“Thankfully no one has been hurt in this incidence, but those responsible for this attack, and ongoing attacks on the police, need to stop and stop now.
“I appeal for calm and call on those destroying their own communities and those fanning the flames to end this recklessness before someone is seriously hurt or killed.”
SDLP MP Claire Hanna also criticised the attack on the photographer, tweeting: “We’re told by the apologists that these protests & riots are borne of frustration about not being listened to, but an excellent photo journalist is attacked while trying to capture the story.”
Police are advising members of the public to avoid these areas.
“We would appeal to those with influence in the area to use it to help restore calm,” a PSNI statement said.
Videos circulating online show a bus being pelted with petrol bombs and having its windows smashed where a crowd of people had gathered.
Translink Metro said it had withdrawn all services into the area until further notice due to road closures, as well as services in east Belfast.
A crowd of around 500 people, most of them adults, gathered on the corner of the junction at Lanark Way as events unfolded.
Further down the road a bonfire was lit where a crowd of approximately 100 people, mostly young, were assembled.
The Stormont Assembly is set to be recalled on Thursday morning for an emergency debate following days of violence.