Violence has broken out once again on the streets of Northern Ireland, despite calls for calm.
A car caught fire in Sperrin Park in the Waterside area of Derry, while there were also reports of violent incidents in Carrickfergus, near Belfast. Both places have been the scene of violence and unrest among the loyal community in recent days.
Previously, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) had called on community leaders to put an end to the disorder that has been going on for much of the last week.
On Sunday night, five police officers were injured after receiving petrol and masonry bombs in Belfast, bringing the total number of police officers injured in incidents in Derry and Belfast over Easter weekend to 32.
Over the past week, tensions in predominantly union communities have escalated into violent incidents, with gasoline bombs being thrown at PSNI agents and containers and pallets set ablaze.
Speaking Monday, PSNI Superintendent Davy Beck said police were ready for another night of rioting, but urged community leaders to put an end to it.
He said: “Right now, as we speak, my officers are in those areas, they are working hard to provide those police services. Be it with regard to crime, be it with respect to road safety, be it with respect to other community concerns.
“We are there and we are doing that. I will have additional resources at my disposal and we will respond to what develops.
“But there is an opportunity to stop this. This doesn’t have to be a third night of trouble in the Cloughfern and Newtownabbey / Carrickfergus area. I would encourage people with influence in those communities to stop this. “
Ch Supt Davy said the attacks were “clearly orchestrated.” He added: “I think there is a small group of disgruntled criminal elements that are clearly involved in influencing young people, and I would appeal to young people in those areas not to allow this to happen.
“I think it’s also fair to say that there is probably no match on this. We have been successful in that area with respect to some of these criminal gangs. So I think this may have been a reaction from some of those people who are involved in crime. “
When asked if he thought the South Antrim UDA was behind the attacks, he replied: “As I said, I think this is a group of disgruntled criminal gangs and we will investigate.”
On Monday night, a masked loyalist band marched through the streets of Portadown, beating drums, flutes and waving flags. Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd condemned the march, which he said was intended to intimidate the local community.
A similar march took place in Markethill on Monday. It raises questions about whether the Parade Commission was notified of these events, as required by law.
Children as young as 12 have been involved in some of the incidents that occurred over the weekend, police said.
Tensions have soared within the loyalist community in recent months over post-Brexit trade deals, which are claimed to have created barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Anger rose further last week following a controversial decision not to prosecute 24 Sinn Féin politicians for attending a large-scale Republican funeral during Covid-19 restrictions.
All the major unionist parties have demanded the resignation of PSNI police chief Simon Byrne, claiming that he has lost the trust of his community.
Meanwhile, in County Antrim, a recent series of drug seizures against the UDA of southeast Antrim, a renegade faction of the main group, has caused particular upset towards the police. The faction is believed to have been behind the riots in Newtownabbey on Saturday.