BELFAST (Reuters) - Northern Irish police called for calm on Tuesday after cars were burned out and a disused building set on fire as officers came under attack by masked Irish nationalist youths throwing petrol bombs and other missiles.
The trouble, which erupted late on Monday, was sparked when Belfast City Council sought to remove materials from a bonfire in the “Markets” area close the city center which had been prepared to mark the anniversary of the introduction of internment without trial.
Internment, the rounding up and imprisoning of hundreds of people in the early 1970s in response to growing Irish Republican Army (IRA) violence, sparked even greater bloodshed and is marked annually across Northern Ireland with bonfires, parades and other events.
“Police urge for calm to remain after dealing with some localised disorder in Belfast tonight,” police said on Twitter.
“People living there do not want this type of behaviour.”
There were no reports of police injuries.
Paul Maskey, a lawmaker from the nationalist Sinn Fein party, condemned the violence as “wanton destruction” and also called for calm at a time when the British-run province is also grappling with a political crisis.
A power-sharing coalition between pro-British Protestant unionists and Irish Catholic nationalists collapsed in January and the protracted political impasse raised fears that inter-community relations might deteriorate.
Traditional July and August marches are seen as a barometer of those relations and annual parades last month that frequently trigger sectarian violence were among the most peaceful since a 1998 peace deal ended three decades of sectarian fighting in which 3,600 people died.
Reporting by Ian Graham, editing by Padraic Halpin and Michael Holden