Northern Ireland has recently seen more than 10 days of violent protests during which demonstrators clashed with police and burned vehicles. Almost 90 law enforcement officers were injured during the unrest.
Former Northern Ireland officials have urged UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to act immediately in Northern Ireland as the country may fall. The letter signed by former ministers from different political parties, including four Northern Irish Secretaries of State, says recent unrest on the streets of Belfast reflects the government’s failure to sustain positive political momentum.
The signatories called on Boris Johnson to address the damage done by Brexit to peace in Northern Ireland.
“The lesson of the past 50 years or more in Northern Ireland is that if there is no forward movement things do not stand still: they fall over. It is the responsibility of the UK government to ensure that does not happen because there is nothing more dangerous than a political vacuum”, reads the letter.
According to former officials, there is a strong sense among loyalists and unionists that no one is listening to them and that the government has not been honest with them “about the consequences of Brexit”.
Only continuous engagement with local communities will defuse tensions over the Irish border, the ministers said.
“The most immediate step is therefore for the government, at the highest level, to be seen to take an interest”, the signatories wrote urging the government to regain the initiative and restore “badly” damaged trust with the authorities.
What Happened in Northern Ireland?
At the end of March, the country saw more than 10 days of unrest, which saw demonstrators attacking police officers with petrol bombs, fireworks, and bricks. Several vehicles were burned, including a bus. The unrest began in loyalist areas where criminal gangs linked to loyalist paramilitaries have influence.