Loyalist rioters petrol-bombed and hijacked a double-decker bus in Belfast on Wednesday evening as violence continued in Northern Ireland.

The loyalist youths also launched violent attacks on the PSNI and assaulted Kevin Scott, a Belfast Telegraph photographer, during another night of violence in the region. 

So much for peaceful - I have just been jumped from behind by two males, masked on Cupar Way. One pulled me to the ground and smashed @BelTel cameras. As I fought this one off I was told to fu*k off back to your own area you fenian cu*t by the other. Police informed pic.twitter.com/dkhGjLRYgv

— Kevin Scott (@Kscott_94) April 7, 2021

A total of 41 PSNI officers have been injured since the outbreak of the violence last Friday and the Northern Ireland Executive will meet early on Thursday morning to be briefed on the ongoing unrest in the region, with Executive members set to debate a motion that condemns recent attacks on the police. 

More footage of the bus attacked by loyalist rioters tonight in Lanark Way, west Belfast as serious disorder continues. pic.twitter.com/w4jZGU39nT

— Patricia Devlin (@trishdevlin) April 7, 2021

A number of elected officials in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the United Kingdom condemned the violent scenes in Belfast on Wednesday evening. 

The Shankill is now closed off in both directions @BelfastLive @bbcnewsline @PaulClark_UTV @StephenNolan pic.twitter.com/q1qj8AgOxV

— Hugh Pollock (@thebaldfather) April 7, 2021

Read more

Sinn Féin Vice President and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill condemned the attacks on Twitter on Wednesday night and urged unionist leaders to call off the violent protests. 

"Disgraceful scenes of criminality tonight including a potentially lethal attack on bus driver and assault on journalist. Unequivocal condemnation needed and protests should be called off immediately - police need support not politicking," O'Neill said on Twitter. 

Disgraceful scenes of criminality tonight including a potentially lethal attack on bus driver and assault on journalist. Unequivocal condemnation needed and protests should be called off immediately - police need support not politicking https://t.co/1UYr1AFSgI

— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) April 7, 2021

Meanwhile, DUP leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster also condemned the violent scenes in a tweet on Wednesday night but faced criticism for describing Sinn Féin as "the real lawbreakers". 

"This is not protest. This is vandalism and attempted murder. These actions do not represent unionism or loyalism. They are an embarrassment to Northern Ireland and only serve to take the focus off the real law breakers in Sinn Fein," the Northern Irish First Minister said in a heavily criticized tweet. 

This is not protest. This is vandalism and attempted murder. These actions do not represent unionism or loyalism. They are an embarrassment to Northern Ireland and only serve to take the focus off the real law breakers in Sinn Fein.
My thoughts are with the bus driver. https://t.co/2JRcOb6s8C

— Arlene Foster #WeWillMeetAgain (@DUPleader) April 7, 2021

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Taoiseach Micheál Martin also took to Twitter on Wednesday night to condemn the violent scenes on the streets of Belfast with both leaders calling for dialogue between nationalist and unionist communities in Northern Ireland to help bring an end to the violence. 

"I utterly condemn the violent attacks on police, a journalist, and bus driver over recent days in The North," Martin said on Twitter. "Now is the time for the two Governments and leaders on all sides to work together to defuse tensions and restore calm."

I utterly condemn the violent attacks on police, a journalist, and bus driver over recent days in The North.

Now is the time for the two Governments and leaders on all sides to work together to defuse tensions and restore calm.

— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) April 7, 2021

Loyalist violence has been ongoing in the Northern Irish cities of Belfast and Derry since last Friday and has allegedly been in response to the PSNI's decision to not prosecute Sinn Féin members for breaching coronavirus restrictions when they attended the funeral of former IRA member Bobby Storey last year. 

Some sources also cite loyalist opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol and opposition to drug seizures against a faction of the UDA in southeast Antrim as potential causes of the unrest. 

Further loyalist protests are set to take place in unionist areas of Northern Ireland on Friday and Saturday with a protest scheduled to take place outside Belfast City Hall on Saturday.

Iht 600x300px with button2