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Britain Warns Of Economic Fallout From N. Ireland Violence

posted 10 Aug 2013, 08:44 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 10 Aug 2013, 08:45 ]

The British government minister for Northern Ireland warns that continuing sectarian violence will the hurt the economic stability created by the peace settlement.

BELFASTNORTHERN IRELANDUNITED KINGDOM (AUGUST 10, 2013) (ITN) - The British minister for Northern Ireland issued a warning over the region's economy on Saturday (August 10) after a second night of violence in central Belfast.

Fifty-six police officers and two civilians were injured in clashes in the latest flare-up in tensions between Northern Ireland's loyalist and nationalist communities on Friday night.

Much of the unrest has centered on parades by loyalist and nationalist groups and their right to pass through separate communities where their presence is seen as provocative.

On Saturday, a march by the loyalist Apprentice Boys passed off peacefully.

But Northern Ireland's police Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, condemned the earlier two nights of violence and said those responsible would be brought to justice.

"We made arrests last night where we could. You can be assured that many more will follow. And if anybody doubts our resolve on this, just think on the 500 or so already arrested and prosecuted or reported since the beginning of disturbances this year. There is plenty of evidence of what happened last night, we are very good at that, and I have no doubt whatsoever that significant custodial sentences will be handed down in the weeks and months that follow. The prisons will be bulging, sadly."

Speaking in London, Britain's Northern Ireland Secretary, Theresa Villiers, joined the condemnation and warned that flare-ups of violence damage the economy of Northen Ireland.

"Certainly events yesterday will damage the Northern Ireland economy. Because Northern Irelandis in a global race like everywhere else and those who are out there working to bring jobs and investment to Northern Ireland will find their job made more difficult by what happened. The reality is Northern Ireland is a very safe place, low crime levels, a huge amount has been achieved since the political settlement, Northern Ireland is a brilliant place to visit, very friendly, great place for a holiday, great place to set up a business and invest. But it does become much harder to convince rest of the world of that if we have people coming out onto the streets and throwing bricks and masonry and whatever comes to hand at police officers."

Belfast remains divided between pro-British loyalists and nationalists who generally favour unification with Ireland, despite a 1998 peace and power-sharing deal that put an end to the worst of the "troubles" in the British province.

Friday's clashes erupted when loyalists tried to block a nationalists' march on Friday evening along the city's main thoroughfare, Royal Avenue.

The parade, marking the anniversary of the 1971 introduction of internment without trial by British authorities, eventually had to pass along a different route.