Protesters engaged in violent clashes with Police, throwing Molotov cocktails and stones at police officers, as well as burning tyres and blocking streets. Crowds of youths joined the protesters in a pro-British area, escalating violence and causing damage to public buildings, including a hijacked bus that was set on fire on 7 April. Police reported previously that at least 41 officers were injured during the nights of rioting in the city.
The protests sparked in Belfast’s loyalist districts on 3 April as the authorities refused to prosecute members of the Sinn Fein political party over their attendance at the funeral of Bobby Storey, a former leader of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
The escalation comes amid a long-standing conflict between unionists, who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK, and republicans, who are calling for more independence from London and want to unite with the Republic of Ireland.
Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol also appears to be at the heart of this week’s protest activity. Since the provisions created trade barriers between the mainland UK and Northern Ireland, many unionists have been calling for a legal challenge against the protocol to eliminate the border in the Irish Sea.