After a day of disorder in the New Lodge area of Belfast, sparked by the attempted removal of a bonfire, the PSNI have released an operational update.
The PSNI have since pulled out of the area, but not before 3 police officers were injured.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd, Commander of the New Lodge Policing Operation said:
“As a Police Service we have been clear in our position that we will always seek to support partner agencies and landowners to ensure they can conduct their lawful business.
“At 5am this morning, we began a significant, dynamic policing operation in the New Lodge area of North Belfast to support contractors who had been tasked to remove a bonfire from the road.
“During the operation a large crowd gathered and police officers were attacked, resulting in three police officers being injured.
“Having met with partner agencies and the contractor this afternoon, we reviewed the ongoing situation. With a large number of women, children and young people in the area, we decided to that we can no longer sustain a policing operation due to the significant risk to public safety and in particular, to innocent bystanders.
“It is our assessment that the majority of local residents do not want this bonfire. I apologise for the inconvenience today’s operation has caused and for not being able to deliver our objective of supporting the removal of the bonfire. I hope that the local community understands my primary concern today was public safety.
“Six petrol bombs have been recovered and a 13 year old youth has been arrested on suspicion of riotous and disorderly behaviour.
“We will be reviewing CCTV footage to identify those who have been involved in the disorder, who can expect to be the subject of further police investigation and action.”
It is believed that the disorder had the involvement of dissident republicans and that the bonfire will still go ahead this evening.
Police, alongside Housing Executive, have urged residents of two nearby housing tower blocks to leave their homes this evening as they could not ‘guarantee safety’ of residents living there.