Northern Ireland: Boris Johnson condemns Belfast violence as bus hijacked and set on fire

The bus being set alight was one of several incidents that took place on the west Belfast peace line street that links the loyalist Shankill Road with the nationalist Springfield Road.

The violence that broke out on the streets of Northern Ireland again last night - which led to a bus being hijacked and set on fire - has been condemned by Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The bus was pelted by petrol bombs in west Belfast, the PSNI said.

It was one of several incidents that took place on Wednesday evening on the peace line street that links the loyalist Shankill Road with the nationalist Springfield Road.

What Boris Johnson said

Writing on Twitter, Mr Johnson said: "I am deeply concerned by the scenes of violence in Northern Ireland, especially attacks on PSNI who are protecting the public and businesses, attacks on a bus driver and the assault of a journalist.

"The way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not violence or criminality."

Violence broke out on the streets of Northern Ireland last night

How the Northern Ireland Executive is reacting

The Northern Ireland Executive is to meet on Thursday morning to be briefed on the situation.

Leaders will meet for the briefing at 10am, an hour before the Stormont Assembly is to be recalled to discuss the recent scenes of violence.

News of the Executive meeting was confirmed late on Wednesday night with trouble still raging on the streets of Belfast.

What Michelle O'Neill said

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said: "The Executive will meet tomorrow morning to be briefed on the violence and street disorder which is causing huge distress in local communities at this time.

"Those involved in violence, criminal damage, manipulation of our young people and attacks on the police must stop."

What has been happening in Northern Ireland?

It follows several nights of unrest in loyalist communities amid tensions over the Northern Ireland Protocol on Brexit and the PSNI's handling of alleged coronavirus regulation breaches by Sinn Fein at the funeral of republican Bobby Storey.

Stones were thrown at police while a press photographer was assaulted nearby during the course of their work on Wednesday evening.

Later on Wednesday night, the gates of the peace line on Lanark Way were opened, leading to clashes between loyalists and nationalists.

Social media footage captured petrol bombs being thrown from both sides of the wall.

What Arlene Foster said

First Minister Arlene Foster condemned the attacks on Twitter, saying: "There is no justification for violence. It is wrong and should stop."

She later added: "This is not protest. This is vandalism and attempted murder. These actions do not represent unionism or loyalism.

"They are an embarrassment to Northern Ireland and only serve to take the focus off the real law breakers in Sinn Fein. My thoughts are with the bus driver."

Deputy First Minister and Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill said: "Disgraceful scenes of criminality tonight including a potentially lethal attack on bus driver and assault on journalist.

"Unequivocal condemnation needed and protests should be called off immediately - police need support not politicking."

What the police chief has said

The Chief Constable of the PSNI Simon Byrne has pleaded for the ongoing unrest to stop.

He tweeted: "The ongoing street disorder must stop. I am open to dialogue with anyone who is willing to work with me to resolve the issues facing our community.

"My message to those engaged in violence tonight is go home before someone is seriously injured, violence is not the answer."

Arlene Foster, along with the other unionist parties, had called for the Chief Constable to resign over the Bobby Storey funeral debacle.