British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the new violence that took place on the night of Wednesday April 7 to Thursday April 8 in Northern Ireland. “The way to resolve disputes is through dialogue and not violence or crime”, he tweeted, expressing his “Deep concern”. The violence comes after a week of riots, which show that the fire is smoldering in the British province, where the consequences of Brexit create a feeling of betrayal among unionists, attached to the crown.
Crowds gathered on Lanark Way, Belfast, “Where a bus was set on fire”, police reported. Fires have been reported on this avenue, where huge metal barriers separate a Catholic neighborhood from a Protestant neighborhood, according to the BBC correspondent. “Hundreds of people on each side threw Molotov cocktails”, she tweeted. Subway traffic has been suspended, the Press Association news agency reported.
Northern Irish Prime Minister Arlene Foster said on Twitter: “This is not a protest. It’s vandalism and attempted murder. These actions do not represent unionism or loyalty. “
This is not protest. This is vandalism and attempted murder. These actions do not represent unionism or loyalty. T … https://t.co/1PlEqCnu5R
Last week, violence first erupted in the city of Londonderry, before spreading to a loyalist area of Belfast and its surroundings during the Easter weekend. These incidents bring up the specter of three bloody decades of “unrest” between Republicans and Unionists, which left 3,500 dead.
The peace agreement signed in 1998 blurred the border between the British province and the Republic of Ireland, but Brexit weakened the delicate balance, requiring the introduction of customs controls between the United Kingdom and the European Union. After tough negotiations, London and Brussels managed to agree on a solution, the Northern Irish Protocol, which avoids the return to a physical border on the island of Ireland by moving controls in ports Northern Irish.
“They understand that they have been betrayed”
Despite a grace period intended to allow businesses to adjust, the new arrangements, which in effect keep Northern Ireland in the European customs union and single market, are causing supply disruptions. But beyond that, many unionists feel a sense of betrayal.
Boris Johnson “Promised unhindered access, which is not the case”Northern Irish Justice Minister Naomi Long said on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday. “They denied the existence of any border, even though these borders were erected”, she added.
According to the specialist in police-justice issues at Belfast Telegraph, Allison Morris, rioters pay little attention to the complexities of trade issues arising from Brexit, but “Are angry”. “They understand that they were betrayed precisely by the British government to which their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents displayed slavish loyalty.”, she wrote.
Some also believe Brexit negotiators have caved in to the nationalists, who have tacitly threatened a bloody response to the prospect of any resumption of Irish border controls. “It has set an explosive precedent that many young loyalists look at protocol and come to the conclusion that violence is rewarded.”Unionist activist Jamie Bryson told the newspaper News Letter.
But Brexit is just one aspect of a larger crisis among Unionists in Northern Ireland. In 2017, they lost their historic majority in the Stormont Regional Assembly. Then, in 2019, the British elections for the first time sent more Nationalist MPs than Unionists to Westminster. There are also signs of a demographic movement, with the younger generation, towards the nationalists, giving the unionists the feeling of being a besieged minority.