Belfast, Riot Police, Protests, The Troubles, Northern Ireland's 100Th Anniversary

Belfast, Riot Police

Riots in Belfast ahead of Northern Ireland's centenary anniversary

Scenes of unrest return to the streets of Belfast two weeks before Northern Ireland's 100th anniversary

5/2/2021 12:15:00 PM

Scenes of unrest return to the streets of Belfast two weeks before Northern Ireland's 100th anniversary

Northern Ireland came into being on May 3, 1921 as Ireland became independent from Britain and was split between pro-Ireland nationalists and pro-UK unionists, who hold the most power.

In the early evening on April 19, teens covered their faces and scrambled for bricks and stones to throw.A mother pushing a pram scooted her child out of the way as a small gang charged a police Land Rover, climbing on the bonnet, prying off a wing mirror and pulling at locked door handles.

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Police on the frontline remained inside their vehicles - their windscreens and sirens covered in metal grid-work that parried the worst of the debris.Early in the evening, a switch pressed by an unseen hand slammed shut the gates in the "peace walls", completely sealing the neighbourhoods off from each other.

A convoy of police vehicles pulled in from a side street, parking in practised formation to block the road to t he gates.The ranks of riot police wielding batons and shields quelled the worst of the violence, for one night at least.The unrest paled in comparison to clashes earlier in the month, when water cannon and dog units waged a running battle with gangs throwing petrol bombs and fireworks.

Loyalist and nationalist youths faced off in a night of violence that shocked the UK and left the area by the peace gates charred and pockmarked.A teddy bear has since been hung on the gates with a hopeful handwritten dedication: "Peace for our children's future."

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