Missiles and fireworks thrown as trouble after Lanark Way anti-protocol protest

Missiles and fireworks have been thrown at PSNI on Lanark Way near the Peace Wall following a protest against protocol.

The demonstration against the Northern Ireland Protocol was scheduled in the sensitive West Belfast area on Wednesday night. PSNI described the resulting violence as a “situation in public order” with “a series of missiles and fireworks thrown at police”.

Problems flared up from 8pm to 10pm before a police clearance led to a deescalation of stone and firework throwing.

In a statement, they said: “Officers advise motorists and pedestrians to avoid the area for the time being.”

Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan condemned those responsible for organizing the illegal protest that led to the violence.

And he said political union needs to call for an immediate end to these dangerous and provocative stunts at interfaces before anyone is seriously injured.

He said: “There is absolutely no room in our community for this unnecessary violence and local residents deserve to live in peace.

“Trouble is a direct consequence of the dangerous and irresponsible stunt organized by loyalists at the Lanark Way interface tonight.

“This so-called anti-protocol protest was deliberately organized at this interface solely for the purpose of increasing tensions and creating problems.

“I urge political union to show some leadership and call for an immediate end to all protests in interface areas before anyone is seriously harmed and they should downplay the provocative and dishonest rhetoric.

“Sinn Féin elected representatives and activists will remain on the ground tonight and offer our support to local residents.”

Masked men on the streets of Belfast

Loyalist activist Jamie Bryson said in a tweet: “Really disappointing that we have disorder on the streets again. No one wants to see this.

“The Protocol has destabilized the peace of Northern Ireland. It is now urgent that Article 16 be inserted to drive a dagger into the heart of the Protocol and allow stability to return.”

Serious disorder erupted in Lanark Way in April, partly attributed to loyalist anger at a trade border in the Irish Sea during the protocol’s post-Brexit arrangements.

Police were quick to intervene

Earlier in the week, a bus was set on fire in Newtownards in an attack on politicians linked to loyalist opposition to the protocol.

The attack in the predominantly unionist area took place on the day set by the DUP earlier in the autumn to tear down the institutions in Stormont, unless major changes to the protocol had been secured.

The DUP has not yet withdrawn ministers from the Executive Board, and insists that progress is being made in settling the disputed border with the Irish Sea.

Opposition to the arrangements that have created trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK was a factor behind riots that flared up in several loyalist areas across the region in April.

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