Petrol bombs have been hurled at police in Northern Ireland ahead of an unauthorised nationalist parade commemorating the 1916 Easter Rising.
Seven petrol bombs were thrown at police vehicles on Monday by youths in the Creggan area of Derry ahead of a dissident republican march from the Creggan estate to the Derry city cemetery.
Footage and images posted by journalists based in Northern Ireland show disorderly scenes. In one clip, a youth throws a petrol bomb at a police van, causing the vehicle to go up in flames.
As the driver leaves the scene, more masked youths surround the van, hurling Molotov cocktails at the police vehicle.
Stones, bottles and planks of wood were also thrown at police during the attack. Although there was damage caused to vehicles, there were no injuries reported, according to The Journal.
Republicans mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising every year. Police said attempts were made to facilitate the 1916 commemoration “within the law,” but these calls were ignored.
In a statement issued by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), authorities said they will review all video footage collected and will “robustly pursue all possible enquiries to identify those involved and bring them before the courts.”
Chief Inspector Ivor Morton said that police attempted to engage with the organisers of the parade prior to the event but they declined to take part in discussions. Morton also said statements from the organisers, claiming they were informed by police if the parade would be stopped, were “patently untrue and can only be viewed as an attempt by those behind the parade as a bid to raise tensions in the area.”
“It is therefore regrettable that in raising those tensions a small number of people saw fit to attack police officers with petrol bombs in what was clearly a premeditated attack.”
The violence has been condemned by members of both the Democratic Unionist Party and nationalist party Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O’Neill condemned the violence as “very disturbing.”
Everyone has a right to remember their dead in a respectful & dignified way. Scenes from Derry today are very disturbing. Masked individuals, causing disturbance, youths throwing petrol bombs etc is far from dignified. Those responsible should be brought before the law.
— michelle oneill (@moneillsf) April 2, 2018
Gary Middleton, a Democratic Unionist Party politician in Northern Ireland, called for an investigation into the violence. “This was an unregistered parade and today the scenes coming from the Creggan area have been totally disgraceful. People in paramilitary style uniform is wrong and the continued glorification of terrorism is abhorrent,” he said.
The scenes coming from the Creggan area have been totally disgraceful. Nobody has a desire to see the violence on display today, except for barbaric thugs intent on endangering life and property. Sad that among those that were involved in hurling petrol bombs were children. https://t.co/cl5Vw2KtkM
— Gary Middleton MLA (@Gary_Middleton) April 2, 2018
A number of arrests were also made after an unauthorised parade, led by men dressed in paramilitary-style uniforms, took place in Lurgan, Armagh, on Saturday.