Northern Ireland

Belfast flashpoint largely quiet after day of talks

Council workers clean up in east Belfast after two days of rioting
Image caption An agreement has been reached to prevent more trouble at an east Belfast interface

A flashpoint area of east Belfast has remained largely peaceful following two nights of violence.

Loyalist and republican groups were involved in a stand-off for several hours.

A group of republican youths began attacking police vehicles, but were stopped by community representatives.

Community workers and politicians held talks on Wednesday. A senior NI government official has been appointed to work with both communities.

Loyalist and nationalist crowds faced each other in an uneasy confrontation on the Mountpottinger Road end of the Short Strand until around 0130 BST on Thursday.

There was a brief flurry of violence just before midnight when some members of the nationalist crowd attacked police landrovers.

It was short lived, and ended when community stewards from the area intervened.

A short distance away on the Lower Newtownards Road, stewards wearing high visibility jackets were also on the streets to prevent violence by loyalists.

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly visited the Short Strand on Wednesday evening.

"As you can see, things are much calmer, that there are far less numbers here, even though there are still substantial numbers here," he said.

"We hope to be able to get through Wednesday night, and then the next night, and the night after that quietly.

"People want to live in peace, they want to live quietly.

"The UVF did this, they set out to do it, and they did it at the beginning of the marching season, so there was an intent there and that intent has to be changed."

A 22-year-old man from west Belfast was arrested on Wednesday night in connection with the trouble in east Belfast.

Police have said much of the violence during two nights of trouble was orchestrated by the loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in east Belfast.

On Tuesday night, a photographer was shot in the leg when a number of shots were discharged. Police said dissident republicans were responsible.

He underwent surgery on Wednesday.

The rioting in east Belfast on Monday and Tuesday night has been described as the worst in the area for ten years.

Image caption Map showing the location of the trouble in east Belfast

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