Belfast riots: Brandon Lewis rushes to NI for urgent crisis talks – fears of more unrest

The situation in Belfast has deteriorated over recent days, with shocking images emerging of petrol bombs being thrown at public transport. Brandon Lewis will urgently go there to discuss the riots. Last night, Mr Lewis repeated “calls for calm” and said he was “appalled” that 41 officers had been injured.

He tweeted: “I am being kept closely appraised by PSNI of developments on recent unrest and I repeat calls for calm.

“I am appalled that 41 officers have been injured and my thoughts are with them.

“The people of NI do not support violence or disorder on the streets.”

The Executive Office in Northern Ireland has released a statement condemining the violence in the capital ans has calmed for calm to be restored to the streets.

Ministers said they are “gravely concerned” by the violent scenes that have been witnessed, and branded attacks on police officers, public services and communities “deplorable”.

The statement said: “We are gravely concerned by the scenes we have all witnessed on our streets over the last week, including those at the Lanark Way interface last night. Attacks on police officers, public services and communities are deplorable and they must stop.

“Destruction, violence and the threat of violence are completely unacceptable and unjustifiable, no matter what concerns may exist in communities.

“Those who would seek to use and abuse our children and young people to carry out these attacks have no place in our society.

“While our political positions are very different on many issues, we are all united in our support for law and order and we collectively state our support for policing and for the police officers who have been putting themselves in harm’s way to protect others.

“We, and our departments, will continue to work together to maximise the support we can give to communities and the PSNI to prevent further violence and unrest.

Last night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also condemned the attacks, and called for “dialogue, not violence or criminality” to resolve the rising tensions.

He tweeted: “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.

Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney warned the frequernt outbreaks of violence on the streets of Northern Ireland must stop before somebody is killed.

He has called on all political and community leaders to work together in an attempt to east the tension.

Mr Coveney told Irish broadcaster RTE: “This needs to stop before somebody is killed or seriously injured.

“These are scenes we haven’t seen in Northern Ireland for a very long time, they are scenes that many people thought were consigned to history and I think there needs to be a collective effort to try to diffuse tension.”

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