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Live Reporting

Emily McGarvey and Luke Sproule

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodnight

    Thank you for joining us today for the reaction following last night's violence in Belfast. You can continue to follow updates on the BBC News NI website, on BBC Radio Ulster and on BBC Newsline at 22:30 BST on BBC One.

    We leave you with this upbeat image by a local artist.


    Danielle Cash Illustration
  2. What happened in Northern Ireland today?

    After another night of violence on Wednesday it was a busy day on the political scene in Northern Ireland.

    • The NI Assembly voted to approve a motion calling for a "immediate and complete end" to street violence
    • Police said the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) is suspected of involvement in the rioting in Belfast on Thursday night
    • The prime minister, the taoiseach (Irish PM) and NI secretary all condemned the violence
    • After previously saying she would not meet with the chief constable due to a dispute over how police handled the funeral of Bobby Storey last summer, First Minister Arlene Foster attended a meeting with Simon Byrne
    • Police revealed eight officers were injured in the trouble on Wednesday night
  3. Timeline: How Northern Ireland's violence unfolded

    Jordan Kenny

    BBC News NI

    A rioter stands on a police Land Rover

    Northern Ireland has seen 10 days of sporadic violence, with crowds of predominantly young people rioting in towns and cities almost nightly since the end of March.

    Armed with bricks, bars, fireworks and petrol bombs, people as young as 12 have attacked police in Londonderry, Belfast, Carrickfergus, Ballymena and Newtownabbey.

    BBC News NI charts how the violence has unfolded.

    To view the timeline, click here.

  4. 'A massive step back for cross-community groups'

    Amy Gribbin works for Forthspring Inter Community Group which has been operating on the peace line since it was built in 1997.

    She told Evening Extra that the recent violence has been a "massive step back" for their cross-community work.

    "Our youth project has been working very hard across the interface division to build strong and meaningful cross-community relationships," she said.

    Belfast riots

    "Our young people have worked hard for the extensions of interface gate opening times to ensure they can access shared youth provision for longer but what happened last night and in the lead up may impact the possibility of the gates opening longer," she said.

    "We're youth workers, we're not police, we're not armed or protected, we're going out in red coats with good intentions.

    She added that young people need to have a "sense of pride and ownership in their community" and a "parental role plays another huge part."

  5. PMs discuss violence in Northern Ireland

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Taoiseach (Irish PM) Micheál Martin have spoken about the violence of recent nights in Northern Ireland.

    A statement from the Irish government said they stressed that violence is unacceptable and called for calm.

    A spokesperson added: "The way forward is through dialogue and working the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.

    "They agreed that the two Governments would continue to stay in contact."

  6. 'All they've known is austerity'

    Green Party councillor Brian Smyth said the "failure of politicians to address the root causes" was to blame for the recent violence.

    "How can you tell young people who believe they have nothing, no future, poor educational outcomes, unemployed and can’t afford a bus into the city centre and you’re telling them they can’t travel to America? [if they get a criminal record]" he said.

    "That's at the root of this and we are trying to communicate with young people who have little to no hope, trying to sell them a dream but there’s no reality for that on the ground."

    Bus burning Shankill

    "It’s heartbreaking and the failure of politicians to address the root causes, poverty, inequality, poor health outcomes, poor educational outcomes, youth services stripped back - all they [young people] have known is austerity, they may not know what austerity means but they’ve lived through it," he said.

    "There’s no investment, no hope."

  7. UVF 'encouraged' west Belfast riot

    Julian O'Neill

    BBC News NI Home Affairs Correspondent

    Rioter caught in the act of throwing a petrol bomb on Lanark Way

    The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) is suspected of involvement in the worst night of rioting Northern Ireland has seen in years, according to police sources.

    It is said to have “encouraged” the trouble at a Belfast interface, although a loyalist source has disputed the police belief of UVF involvement.

    It means the fingerprints of both main loyalist paramilitary groups are on separate incidents of street violence which have erupted since last Friday.

    Disorder on previous occasions – in south Belfast, Newtownabbey and Londonderry – is connected to the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

  8. 'Government has not abandoned unionists'

    Enda McClafferty

    BBC News NI political editor

    NI Secretary Brandon Lewis has denied that the UK government has abandoned unionists through the new Brexit arrangements.

    He was responding to concerns raised by loyalist community workers who said the new Irish Sea border created by the Northern Ireland protocol had left unionists feeling disconnected from the rest of the UK.

    It followed a night of rioting on Thursday at an interface in Belfast during which police were pelted with petrol bombs.

    Mr Lewis returned to Northern Ireland today to speak to political leaders and the police.

    Speaking to the BBC he denied the government had played a part in the unrest.

    “We recognise the issues around identity and are working to make sure UK citizens in Northern Ireland have the same experience as UK citizens living in Great Britain," he said.

    A sign protesting against the Irish Sea border at Larne Port

    He added that the government was working with the EU to address concerns raised over the protocol.

    He insisted there were a range of “complicated” issues which had been flagged up including criminal gangs, which according to the PSNI were behind much of the trouble in Northern Ireland this week.

    “Whatever the concerns, violence is not the answer,” he said

    He also welcomed the cross party condemnation of lasts night violence through a joint statement issued by the Northern Ireland Executive.

  9. NI secretary 'absolutely' open to visiting Shankill

    Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has said he is "absolutely" open to visiting the site of some of the worst violence Northern Ireland has seen in years.

    Mr Lewis landed in Northern Ireland for emergency talks with Stormont's main parties this afternoon.

    Asked by the BBC's Evening Extra programme if he would speak to people on the Shankill Road, he said: "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."

    Police in riot gear

    Asked to respond to comments he had been "missing in action" while violence erupted in Northern Ireland, he said he had been talking to political leaders and the Police Service of Northern Ireland "over the past couple of days".

    He said he was unaware of claims he had been "missing."

  10. 'Violence not linked to Storey funeral' - O'Neill

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

    Last week unionist politicians reacted with anger after the Public Prosecution Service said nobody who attended the funeral would be prosecuted over alleged breaches of Covid-19 regulations - including Ms O'Neill.

    Speaking to Evening Extra on BBC Radio Ulster 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."

    Michelle O'Neill

    She said the PSNI had confirmed that organised criminal gangs were "using young people to go out on the streets to carry out criminal activity detrimental to their community and to themselves.

    "We must call on all young people not to be used and abused by these criminal gangs."

  11. Some youth services to reopen in wake of violence

    Rioters in a stand off at the peace wall

    Some youth services will reopen after children joined in recent riots in Northern Ireland.

    Education Minister Peter Weir says it will apply in areas of unrest.

    In a statement this afternoon, he says the aim was to "divert" young people from becoming involved in violence.

    “As a society we should all be appalled at witnessing young people and even children being involved in the recent violence on our streets.

    “At this time it is even more important that youth services are able to meet the needs of young people in these areas.”

    It has been agreed that all youth centres and provisions in areas where there is heightened community tensions can maximise the use of their facilities and services with immediate effect.

    This includes educational visits and overnight stays when there is significant risk of harm or criminalisation of children and young people.

  12. Pastor's 'heart sank' to see children riot

    Pastor Stephen Reynolds, chairperson of Conway Youth Centre

    A Shankill Road pastor said his "heart sank" seeing young children riot in the streets.

    Church of God pastor Stephen Reynolds, who is also chairman of Conway Youth Centre, said the young people involved were encouraged by "sinister elements" in the community.

    "To think young children are out on the streets rioting, and throwing petrol bombs, bricks, all sorts of things like that, it was just heartbreaking," he said.

    "This was something that we've known in the past, it's not something we want today or going forward for our children and young people, so my heart just sank when I saw it all.

    "I think the main reason why they're getting involved in all this kind of activity is due to sinister elements within the community, who are encouraging them to get involved."

    He says the violence forced some shops to close early and halted bus services and some food delivery vans were cancelled because of fears for workers' safety.

  13. Labour leader condemns Belfast violence

    Sir Keir Starmer

    Sir Keir Starmer says the violence witnessed in west Belfast was "completely unacceptable" and calls on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to "step up" and "show leadership".

    Speaking in an interview during a visit to Bristol, the Labour leader says he is "very concerned” by the street violence and believes “the prime minister needs to convene all-party talks".

    He adds: "This is about leadership and the prime minister can't be absent".

    Sir Keir says "everybody with responsibility, in and for Northern Ireland, needs to condemn the violence in no uncertain terms".

  14. Londonderry community worker bemoans lack of political leadership

    A community worker in Londonderry says people on the ground have been working to ease tensions in the Waterside following repeated incidents of violence, but believes there has been a lack of political leadership.

    Brian Dougherty, who is from the North West Cultural Partnership, tells BBC Radio Foyle many unionists feel forgotten about.

    "The leadership has raised a lot of questions within loyalism generally over how the protocol was handled and how it has manifested itself here now as well."

    He adds: "At a time when leadership is required, we are not seeing it at that elected level".

    Mr Dougherty says "more pressure" is being put on community groups to take on that responsibility.

    Waterside trouble on Monday
    Image caption: Police responded to an incident in the Waterside on Monday where cars were set alight and surrounding roads blocked with fires

    In the latest incidents in Derry on Monday, petrol bombs were thrown at police and vehicles set alight in the Waterside.

    On Tuesday, PSNI district commander Darrin Jones said twelve officers were injured in the north west during seven nights of unrest, but all have since returned to work.

  15. 'Never so much anger' towards DUP

    Sign reading 'Protocol must go' in east Belfast

    There has never been so much anger toward a unionist party than there is now directed at the DUP, a former Progressive Unionist Party councillor has said.

    Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston said there was a "growing disconnect" between unionism and its base.

    She said people were mislead about the consequences of Brexit - a charge echoed by formerNorthern Ireland Secretary Lord Hain on the same programme.

    She told the BBC: "Violence can never ever be justified but it can be explained

    "I have never experienced as much anger towards a party within unionism then I have at this point in time towards the DUP."

  16. 'Propaganda within our communities'

    Eileen Weir, a community activist in Belfast, told Talkback that community workers on the ground are "burnt out."

    "They’re dealing with the pandemic, now they’re dealing with violence within the interfaces which is very sad but people in west and north Belfast are not our enemies, that is not where we should be taking our frustrations out," she said.

    "We need the language coming from our political leaders be positive and forceful so the communities can get their trust back in their political leaders."

    Translink bus burnt Belfast

    "I was 15 when the troubles started and the propaganda within communities makes you get up and do something, that propaganda within communities is there and if you’re young and a teenager you’re going to act and react, which is wrong," she said.

    "Let's get back to what the Good Friday Agreement was about, peaceful means, not to wreck their own communities and put more hardship on those areas already suffering."

  17. Bus hijacking condemned as drivers hold protest

    Bus drivers gathered at Belfast City Hall earlier to protest the hijacking of a bus on the Shankill Road yesterday evening.

    Michael Dornan, chairman of the Unite Union for Metro bus drivers, said a crowd stopped the bus before crowding around it.

    Bus driver protest at City Hall

    "They started pelting the bus with bricks etc, forced the doors open and then he and the passengers were allowed off and then they petrol-bombed the bus.

    "It all happened within a matter of seconds.

    "We're just lucky there wasn't a fatality there last night."

  18. What is behind the violence in Northern Ireland?

    Michael Hirst

    BBC News NI

    While there are no clear indications the unrest is being orchestrated by an organised group, the violence has been concentrated in areas where criminal gangs linked to loyalist paramilitaries have significant influence.

    Unionist leaders have linked the violence to simmering loyalist tensions over the Irish Sea border imposed as a result of the UK-EU Brexit deal.

    The new trading border is the result of the Northern Ireland Protocol, introduced to avoid the need for a hard border on the island of Ireland.


    Some unionist leaders have also attributed the violence to the decision not to prosecute leaders of Sinn Féin for breaching Covid regulations at the funeral of a former IRA intelligence chief last June.

    There have been calls for the PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne to resign over the police's handling of Bobby Storey's funeral, however Mr Byrne has refused to step down.

    He says he is "open to dialogue with anyone who is willing to work with me to resolve the issues facing our community".

    Read more here.

  19. NI secretary meeting with political leaders

    Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis is meeting with community, faith and political leaders in Northern Ireland today - in a statement released a short while ago, he says he wants to discuss moving forward from the recent violence.

    He says "all communities in Northern Ireland must work together to resolve the tensions that we are currently facing".

    He adds that the people of Northern Ireland "deserve better than a continuation of the violence and disorder that we have witnessed in recent days".

    "Those engaged in this destruction and disorder do not represent Northern Ireland."

    Brandon Lewis

    He says the strength of the Good Friday Agreement lay in providing a framework for all communities, through mutual respect and tolerance, to live and work together.

    "I am aware of the ongoing concerns from some in the unionist and loyalist community over recent months and I have been engaging and listening to those concerns."