Riot police respond to Belfast protests over Northern Ireland Protocol

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Nov. 3 (UPI) — Riot police responded to protests against the Northern Ireland Protocol on Wednesday in north Belfast after participants allegedly aimed missiles and fireworks at officers.

BBC News reported that in addition to the violence toward police, protesters, who gathered along Lanark Way, set trash bins on fire.

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Authorities shut down several roads in the area and called on people to disperse.

Demonstrators gathered in opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol, which keeps the land border open between Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom and Ireland in the European Union. The 1998 Northern Ireland peace deal between the two countries established the open border, which worked because both belonged to the European Union at the time, so there was no need for checks on trade and goods traveling across the border.

But after the United Kingdom exited the EU, those borders became trickier. The EU requires many goods from non-EU countries to be inspected before crossing the border and prohibits some goods altogether.

In order to maintain a lack of checks on the Irish-Northern Irish border, those checks will now be conducted when items are transported to Northern Ireland from England, Scotland or Wales.

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Critics say this has effectively created a new border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Paul Doherty, a lawmaker from the Social Democratic and Labour Party who represents west Belfast, called for an end to the violence Wednesday.

“The scenes in west Belfast this evening have been highly regrettable. I went to the area to appeal to our young people not to engage in anti-social and dangerous behavior that does nothing but cause misery to the long-suffering people of this community and put their own future at risk,” he said, according to Belfast Live.