POLICE IN Northern Ireland were targeted with petrol bombs and fireworks during a night of unrest in Belfast that saw two cars hijacked and set on fire.
The disturbances broke out in the loyalist O'Neill/Doagh Road area of Newtownabbey, on the outskirts of Northern Irish capital, this past Saturday evening.
Much of the unrest unfolded around the Cloughfern roundabout with large crowds gathering to watch as several cars were burned while a police van was also attacked.
There were no reports of any injuries among the police in attendance at the trouble was brought under control by around 10:15pm.
However, several of the rioters are thought to have suffered burns as a result of throwing petrol bombs.
The ugly scenes came just a day after eight people were arrested and 27 police officers were injured following riots in Belfast and Derry
15 officers were injured in Belfast after clashing with protesters in the loyalist Sandy Row area of the city. An estimated 300 people were present during the unrest, while two boys, aged 13 and 14, were among the eight people arrested.
According to District commander, Chief Superintendent Simon Walls, police officers attending the scene suffered burns as well as head and leg injuries after coming under attack from rioters throwing metal rods, masonry and fireworks.
Seven individuals including three teenage boys have been charged over their roles in the riot.
Four adults - three men, aged 25, 21 and 18 years old, and a woman, aged 19 – will appear at Belfast Magistrates' Court on 30 April.
The three teenagers, aged 17, 14 and 13, will appear at Belfast Youth Court on the same date.
A further 12 police officers suffered head, leg and foot wounds in Derry after coming under attack from a large group of youths throwing similar items.
The incidents come amid simmering tensions over the Northern Ireland Protocol, set up as part of the UK’s Brexit deal with the EU, which has resulting in the establishment of a border in the Irish Sea.
Matters were made worse by the public prosecutors’ decision not to prosecute 24 Sinn Fein party members who attended the funeral in June of Irish Republican Army figure Bobby Storey in blatant violation of of Covid-19 guidelines.
Stormont's First Minister Arlene Foster has called for calm, urging young people “not to get drawn into disorder" and warning that violence "will not make things better".
"I know that many of our young people are hugely frustrated by the events of this last week but causing injury to police officers will not make things better," the DUP leader said.
"And I send my strong support to all of the rank-and-file police officers that are on duty over this Easter weekend.
"I appeal to our young people not to get drawn into disorder which will lead to them having criminal convictions and blighting their own lives.
"I also ask parents to play their part and be proactive in protecting their young adults."
Her sentiments have been echoed by Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis who described the unrest as "completely unacceptable".
Violence is never the answer. There is no place for it in society,” he said.
"It is unwanted, unwarranted and I fully support the PSNI appeal for calm."