Crowds of youths pelt N. Irish police with stones on Belfast’s nationalist Springfield Road (VIDEOS)

A week of violence has continued in Northern Ireland, as gangs of youths clashed again with police in Belfast. A line of heavily armored riot officers was pelted with stones, and responded with water cannon.

Video footage shot on Thursday evening shows gangs of youths facing off against a line of Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers on the predominantly nationalist Springfield Road, lobbing stones and other projectiles at them.

As darkness fell, fireworks were launched at police lines.

Springfield Road is a predominantly nationalist area, and is separated from the mostly Loyalist Shankill Road by a fortified ‘peace wall.’ On the other side of the line, Unionists also clashed with police. A day earlier, Loyalist youths petrol-bombed and reportedly attempted to hijack a bus making its way down Shankill Road.

Back on the Springfield Road, nationalist community leaders reportedly intervened to stop some youths throwing petrol bombs at the police lines. Still, as projectiles flew toward them, the officers used water cannon to disperse the crowd, and advanced on the mob with riot shields hoisted and police dogs barking.

Some nationalists accused the PSNI of cracking down harder on their side than on the Loyalists, whereas Loyalist anger has been attributed to the decision not to prosecute politicians from the republican Sinn Fein party who attended the funeral of a Provisional Irish Republican Army volunteer despite Covid restrictions.

In addition to their anger over the Republican funeral, Loyalists have reacted with outrage to the UK’s post-Brexit agreement with the EU, which sees the British territory remain inside the EU’s single market but outside the trading bloc proper. Unionists claim the post-Brexit arrangement sees a de-facto border created down the Irish sea, separating Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. 

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