N. Irish leaders condemn violence

Northern Ireland's power-sharing government put aside factional differences and appealed for calm on Thursday (April 8) after nightly outbreaks of street violence escalated.

The violence comes amid growing frustration among many pro-British unionists at new post-Brexit trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Crowds of youths in a pro-British area of Belfast set a hijacked bus on fire and attacked police with stones Wednesday evening.

This is pro-British First Minister Arlene Foster, speaking at the regional assembly, Stormont:

"Political problems require political solutions, never street violence."

Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein's leader Michelle O'Neill also called on leaders to "stand united" against acts of violence.

"It's unacceptable and it is a miracle that, as we stand here today, that no one has been killed."

While lawmakers from all sides condemned the violence, the two main rivals that lead its compulsory power-sharing coalition blamed each other.

Sinn Fein have accused the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party - or DUP - of stoking tensions with their staunch opposition to the new trading barriers.

The DUP in turn has pointed to a decision by police not to prosecute Sinn Fein for a large funeral last year that broke COVID-19 regulations.

Parts of the region remain deeply split along sectarian lines, 23 years after a peace deal largely ended three decades of bloodshed.

Many Catholic nationalists aspire to unification with Ireland, while Protestant unionists want to stay in the UK.