A council worker clears the streets yesterday after Tuesday night's riots. Peter Morrison/AP/Press Association Images

Rory McIlroy 'saddened' by renewed violence in Belfast

With tensions remaining high in the city last night, the US Open champion has said: “Northern Ireland deserves peace.”

GOLF CHAMPION RORY McIlroy has said he is “saddened” by scenes of sectarian violence in east Belfast this week.

Speaking on his homecoming to Northern Ireland, the US Open winner told UTV: “To see what’s happened over the past couple of nights is very sad. I know 99.9 per cent of the community doesn’t want to see what’s been going on and I think everyone just wants to live in peace. Northern Ireland is a great country and I think it deserves that.”

Last night was the first without violence since the weekend in Belfast’s Lower Newtownards Road and Short Strand areas, although tensions remain high. Crowds gathered in the area and PSNI riot officers were deployed, but did not go into action. Both loyalist and republican community leaders were on the streets attempting to defuse tensions, while the North’s First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have appointed a senior official to liaise with the communities, the BBC reports.

On both Monday and Tuesday nights hundreds of loyalist and republican youths gathered at the flashpoint area, some hurling fireworks and petrol bombs. There was also gunfire and three people, including Press Association photographer Niall Carson, received bullet wounds.

The PSNI have said the violence was orchestrated by elements in the UVF, though it’s thought Carson was wounded by gunfire from dissident republicans. A 22-year-old man was arrested yesterday for questioning in relation to dissident republican activity.

The Irish Times reports that sources believe the riots were organised by a UVF leader in east Belfast, nicknamed “the Beast from the East”, who organised around 100 supporters to attack the nationalist Short Strand enclave on Monday night. Loyalist sources told the Belfast Telegraph he was a “loose cannon”, adding: “He is out of favour at the minute with the UVF in the rest of the city.

“They can’t control him. He has been brought up to the Shankill Road and told to wind his neck in, but he’s not prepared to toe the line.”

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