Micheál Martin and Boris Johnson discuss ‘concerning developments’ in NI

THE TAOISEACH AND the British Prime Minister have discussed the “concerning developments” in Northern Ireland over the past few days. 

Last night, a bus was hijacked and set on fire in west Belfast, a press photographer was assaulted, and there were clashes between loyalists and nationalists at the peace line street that links the Shankill Road with the Springfield Road.

The government said in a statement this evening that Martin and Johnson “called for calm” and stressed that “violence is unacceptable”. 

“The way forward is through dialogue and working the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement,” the statement said. 

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

The Northern Ireland Executive met this morning to be briefed on the ongoing unrest and Stormont has also condemned the violence. 

Before the events of last night, some 41 police officers had been injured and ten people arrested over the disturbances – including as young as 12.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Jonathan Roberts said this afternoon the figure had risen to 55 after last night’s violence. 

He said that the injuries sustained by police were “on the whole relatively minor” but that this was “very lucky” given the “large items of masonry, fireworks and petrol bombs”.

“The scale of the disorder last night was at a scale that we have not seen in recent years in Belfast or further afield. And the fact that it was sectarian violence, and there was large groups on both sides of the incident again it’s something that we have not seen for a number of years,” he said. 

The Taoiseach said last night that the “attacks on a journalist and bus driver are deeply concerning and are in no one’s interests. Now is the time for the two governments and leaders on all sides to work together to defuse tensions and restore calm”.

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