One Month on the Shankill: Watch a lengthy report from an eyewitness as ITV News gains access to the Shankill Road loyalist community following the recent violence, as tensions rise over the course of the North Ireland Brexit Protocol.
Gasoline bombs, fires and bricks smashing windows – the riots in Belfast earlier this year were among the worst violence never seen in North Ireland for years.
For several nights in April, cars were hijacked and worshipers – including children and adolescents – vowed to resume protest actions against the after-Brexit commercial agreements.
The Northern Ireland Protocol is much more that the so-called “sausage wars”, it created new barriers and bureaucracy on trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
ITV News spent a month talking to members of the predominantly loyal Shankill Road community about the riots, anger and the impact of the Northern Ireland Protocol on their lives.
“They look at us like dirt dogs,” says a teenager
A teenager, Matty, told Rohit Kachroo, editor of ITV News Global Security: “Protocol has radicalized young people.”
Another teenager, Dylan, added: “I felt like they were being pushed into it.”
When asked if the riots and violence would happen again, Dylan said: “Personally I think it’s going to get worse, the way it looks I think it’s going to get worse… and maybe guns will be out. ”
Matty also said that political parties and politicians, including the DUP, Sinn fein and prime minister Boris Johnson look at his community.
“We’re just seen as dirt dogs – that’s what we are viewed, and that’s not the way it should be,” he said.
“I felt anger, I had the impression that we had no other choice”: a young rioter explains why he took part in the violence
One of the rioters told ITV News why he participated in the violence in April this year.
He said: “I was feeling angry, I felt like we had no other option, we had to do something.”
“We did a lot of things and nothing worked, we staged peaceful protests, put up banners, posted a message on Facebook, painted the walls – ‘No border to the Irish Sea ! No NI protocol ‘and none of this seemed to work.
“None of this made the headlines but as soon as a little problem arose …”
Every year, bonfires and parades take place on July 12 but this year is different, as many loyalists for the first time believe they are moving away from the UK.
The twelfth parade marks the victory of Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne, north of Dublin, in 1690 – a triumph that secured a Protestant line of succession to the British crown.
The Orange Order was formed in County Armagh in 1795, when its founding members pledged their loyalty to the royal family and swore to defend the Protestant faith.
“We are left behind and no one is listening”
Speaking at a parade, Stacey told ITV News that her family, including her children, have been abused on social media for their support in the UK.
She said: “I feel like we are being left behind and no one is listening, we just want to thrive and live in peace.”
When asked if protocol was the last straw, Stacey replied, “Yeah, I think so, it’s just a bunch of different things over many years. Looks like it is being delivered for other communities, but the Shankill community still lives in poverty and destitution. ”
What’s next for Northern Ireland?
She said: “I want to live in peace, I don’t want to be attacked for who I am. I get abused on social media every day, my kids are attacked on social media because they are proud of being British – what’s wrong? ”
“This is totally wrong, no other part of society is abused and labeled as my company and we have had enough.”
What happened in Belfast and why are people angry with the Brexit protocol in Northern Ireland?
Scenes of youths bombing police lines are far too familiar and depressing, UTV political editor Tracey Magee written in april. But it is important to note the violence observed in April, although destructive and senseless, did not come out of nowhere.
Loyalists claim that the Northern Ireland Protocol has undermined the region’s place in the Union.
Magee added: “Brexit, complex socio-economic factors, political disaffection and ever-present sectarian anger have combined to disrupt Northern Ireland’s delicate ecosystem – restoring balance is now the challenge.”