Fears that unrest in Belfast will continue into the weekend have been raised by Northern Irish leaders.

Riots have broken out in largely loyalist areas in the province in recent days, in part due to anger at the economic barriers thrown up between Britain and Northern Ireland by post-Brexit trading arrangements.

Loyalists, who staunchly support the union between the two, have called on their communities to halt protests as a mark of respect for the Duke of Edinburgh, who died at Windsor Castle on Friday.

Signs posted in Lanark Way in Belfast, the scene of much of the unrest, read: “We would ask all PUL (Protestant, Unionist, Loyalist) protests are postponed as a mark of respect to the Queen and the Royal Family.

“The continued opposition to the NI protocol and all other injustices against the PUL community will take place again after the period of mourning.”

The Northern Ireland Protocol, which came into effect after the UK left the EU, has sparked protest, as well as other factors like anger that no legal action was taken against the 24 Sinn Fein politicians who attended the funeral of former IRA leader Bobby Storey in spite of restrictions on public gatherings.

Sinn Fein has also voiced concerns about the possible continuation of unrest. Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “I’m worried about the weekend ahead. We all need to be very careful and very consciously try to do all we can to prevent this happening.

“I hope and I urge all young people to not engage, do not allow yourself to be used or manipulated in any sort of way, and to stay off the streets, stay home and stay safe.”

The Sinn Fein vice president went on to say that Stormont and Westminster must work together as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement to prevent further violence.

But in spite of previous calls for calm from a spectrum of political leaders, pockets of unrest broke out on Friday evening.

Stones and bottles were hurled at police officers, while a car was set on fire at Tiger Bay, a loyalist area in the north of Belfast.

Stones were also reportedly thrown at officers in the nearby area of New Lodge. There were reports of petrol bombs being used and of a police barricade being set alight in Coleraine.

Police have called for calm and urged those with influence in their communities to help stop young people being caught up in criminality and violence.

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