MEMBERS OF THE PSNI have been praised for their actions, following a night of violence in Northern Ireland which left 29 police officers injured.
Chief Constable of the PSNI, Matt Baggott, said that those under his control had been ‘courageous’ in their attempts to quell the violence that has overshadowed all else in Northern Ireland since December of last year.
Last night’s trouble came after loyalists, who had been protesting at Belfast City Hall over the Union flag issue, clashed with nationalists in East Belfast.
Fireworks, bricks and other missiles were used against police.
Speaking about the current situation in Northern Ireland on Sky News earlier today, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said that the Irish government was “concerned about it”.
“I think it has to be said that the numbers of people who are involved in this is relatively small,” he said. “This street violence has got to stop.”
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny echoed this view on RTÉ’s This Week programme, when he said that Northern Ireland could “not revert to the disasters of the past”.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said that he welcomed this view, saying that “those elements fomenting violence on the streets of Belfast will not be allowed to derail the peace process or to undermine the Good Friday Agreement.”
Gilmore is due to meet with First Minister Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers next week to review the issue.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said that he was relieved that Gilmore would “now take part in multilateral discussions about what has been taking place.”
He also said:
I would call on Mr Gilmore to avoid taking a narrow approach to the recent flags disturbances. While the flags violence has dominated the headlines, in my view it is a symptom of a much wider malaise in Northern Ireland rather than the core problem.
The problem in the North is a wider failure of politics. The dominant parties in the Northern Executive have failed to demonstrate to Northern society that democratic politics works. When politics is not about the economy and improving people’s standard of life, it reverts to being about parades, flags and division.