Northern Ireland riots

This item appears on page 5 of the June 2021 issue.

In Northern Ireland, the largest protests and riots in the area since the end of The Troubles in 1998 began in late March. Large gatherings and violent acts had occurred nearly every night up to press time, with nearly 100 police officers injured and multiple cars and buildings damaged by petrol bombs.

While protesters have been aligned with both pro-English (Loyalist) and pro-Ireland (Nationalist) interests, most of the violence has been blamed on Loyalist groups who are unhappy with trade and border control agreements the UK has made with the Republic of Ireland, which somewhat restrict movement and trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. In addition, many are protesting COVID-19 rules.

Citing Brexit, on March 4 militant Irish Republican Nationalist groups in Northern Ireland told the British government they were leaving the Good Friday Agreement, which had ended The Troubles in 1998. However, they said any future actions on their part would be peaceful.

On April 19 in the town of Dungiven, a bomb was found under a police officer’s car and defused. Police blamed the New IRA for planting the bomb. The New IRA, sometimes known as the Real IRA (RIRA), splintered from the Irish Republican Army (IRA) after the Good Friday Agreement. It is a militant Nationalist group that is considered a terrorist organization by the US and UK.