Sunday marked the third night of riots in the cities of Belfast and Derry / Londonderry, where police targeted petrol bombs and hijacked and set on fire cars.
The clashes involved children as young as 12, according to a statement from the Northern Ireland Police Service (PSNI).
On Saturday night, 30 petrol bombs were dropped on police in Newtownaby, Belfast, and three vehicles were hijacked and set on fire, police said in what they described as an “organized attack”.
Riots ensued in the two cities on Friday following a decision not to prosecute Irish Nationalist Party leaders Sinn Fein for alleged violations of coronavirus restrictions by attending the funeral of a former IRA leader during the blockade last year. The decision is being reviewed.
Instead, it creates a de facto border down the Irish Sea, as goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain are subject to EU inspections, a move that has angered pro-British unionists.
Police found the escalating violence “unacceptable” and called on residents to help dispel local tensions and prevent new incidents.
David Campbell, chairman of the Council of Loyal Communities, recently told CNN that “it’s very easy to get matters out of control, so it’s important for dialogue to take place … but [if not] there would already be demonstrations of Covid’s restrictions – I have no doubt that the ports would be blocked. “
Speaking about the incident on Friday, Sinn Féin MP Paul Muskie said in a statement: “Tonight we have unfortunately seen clashes between young people and PSNI in the Sandy Row area following a protest organized by loyalists against the protocol.”
“I urge the DUP and political trade unionism to show leadership, end their dangerous rhetoric and ensure an urgent de-escalation of tensions,” Maski added.
CNN’s Kara Fox contributed to this report.