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15-year-old arrested for 'riotous behaviour' after youths burn furniture to barricade street in Belfast

Demonstrations took place in Belfast and Derry.

Loyalist protesters during further unrest on Lanark Way
Loyalist protesters during further unrest on Lanark Way
Image: PA

Updated Apr 20th 2021, 1:38 PM

A 15-YEAR-OLD boy was arrested by police in Northern Ireland last night after unrest returned to Belfast and Derry following a week of relative calm.

PSNI officers were deployed to Lanark Way in Belfast yesterday evening, when crowds gathered and the road was blocked after a number of pieces of furniture were set alight.

There were also disturbances on the nearby Shankhill Road, where a bus was set alight during another protest earlier this month.

Images from both streets showed a small number of youths with their faces covered around a small fire and, at one point, attacking a police van at the scene.

northern-ireland-unrest A PSNI is surrounded on the Shankhill Road in Belfast Source: PA

In a statement this afternoon, the PSNI said officers were deployed from 6.30pm after groups of masked youths gathered and made attempts to barricade the road.

A spokesman said “minor disorder” in the area continued for several hours, with items being burnt on roads and missiles being thrown at police officers and their vehicles.

There were no reports of any injuries to officers and both areas were declared calm by 11pm.

“A 15 year old male was arrested on suspicion of riotous behaviour at Lanark Way and has since been released on bail as police enquiries continue,” a statement said.

Police said evidence was still being gathered and attempts to identify others involved were underway.

Belfast District Commander Andy Freeburn thanked community representatives for preventing further disorder.

“Whilst I fully condemn these incidents, I am glad to say that last night’s disorder was not on the scale that we have witnessed recently,” he said.

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“I would continue to appeal for calm and ask those young people to reconsider the choices they are making in attacking police and property and leaving themselves liable to arrest.”

Other images posted on social media also showed a group of loyalist protesters gathering in Newtownards in Down.

It follows a week of calm in the North after days of demonstrations and rioting by loyalists, which left dozens of PSNI officers injured after they were attacked with petrol bombs, fireworks and stones.

The violence has come at a time of increasing rancour in the political sphere amid tensions over the post-Brexit Irish Sea trade border and the fallout from the police’s handling of a republican funeral that took place during pandemic restrictions last year.

Unionists are furious at a decision by prosecutors not to take action against 24 Sinn Féin politicians, including deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, for attending the funeral of former IRA leader Bobby Storey, a decision partly related to the fact that police had engaged with organisers before the event that drew 2,000 people on to the streets.

Drugs seizures against a dissident faction of the UDA in south-east Antrim have also been blamed.

- Contains reporting from Press Association.

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