Arlene Foster: ‘Malign and criminal elements’ to blame for violent disorder

Arlene Foster has repeated her call for the chief constable to resign, but insisted that “malign and criminal elements” are to blame for getting young people involved in violent disorder.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 8:39 am
Updated Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 9:12 am
A member of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) extinguishes a JCB digger which was set alight close to the Nelson Drive estate in the Waterside, Londonderry.

The first minister made her comments as loyalist protest activity continued to cause disruption in parts of Belfast, Co Antrim, Co Armagh and Londonderry.

Forty-one police officers have been injured as a result of violence in recent days – said to be linked to the creation of an Irish Sea border post-Brexit, and the lack of prosecutions over the Sinn Fein-organised Bobby Storey funeral.

Petrol bombs were thrown in Carrickfergus and nine officers were injured in disorder in Ballymena on Monday.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Yesterday, Mrs Foster said she has no plans to meet with Simon Byrne, and added: “When I think of all those officers out facing the violence over this past few nights, I really feel for them, because their leadership team has left them down”.

Last week Mrs Foster described the chief constable’s position as “untenable”.

However, non-unionist parties have accused unionist leaders of creating the febrile atmosphere and stoking up tensions.

The A8 at Larne was closed by police for two hours last night as a crowd of around 50 loyalists staged a protest at the Antiville roundabout.

Meanwhile, DUP MP Sammy Wilson has said that people have a legitimate right to protest – so long as it is done peacefully.

Asked by the News Letter if a series of un-notified band parades was an acceptable way of registering dissent, Mr Wilson said to protest is people’s right – but they must ensure “they are not going to give opportunities for people who want to wreck their own towns”.

The Stormont assembly is set to be recalled today for an emergency session to discuss the disorder.