A spontaneous act of solidarity has taken place at Belfast city hall for the driver of a bus that was hijacked and setting alight in the city on Wednesday evening, PA Media reports. PA says:
Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) assistant general secretary Owen Reidy said it was a demonstration on behalf of the entire trade union movement to support the driver, who has been left shaken by the incident.
“Theirs is an act of generosity towards their fellow bus driver who was shockingly attacked last evening and towards the brave police officers and journalists who were also assaulted while doing their job and serving the community,” he said.
“Workers across Northern Ireland will not accept being the subject of attacks when going about their duties. The Translink workers are standing up and proclaiming this loudly.”
From the BBC’s Jayne McCormack
Northern Ireland secretary flying to Belfast for talks about rioting
Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, is flying to Northern Ireland in response to the violence, PA Media reports. PA says:
Lewis is expected to meet political leaders from the main political parties, as well as faith and community leaders after flying into Belfast on Thursday afternoon.
Among the politicians he is set to talk to are first minister Arlene Foster, from the DUP, and deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill, from Sinn Fein.
at 8.09am EDT
Stewart Dickson, an Alliance MLA, is now winding up the debate.
He says the violence may be orchestrated by “sinister criminal elements”.
But young people are being implicated. He says their future may be on the line if they end up with a criminal record.
What are needed are peaceful solutions. He says he thinks he has heard a desire for that expressed during the debate.
The actions of political leaders have consequences, he says. He says there were “no excuses” for what Sinn Fein politicians, including Michelle O’Neill, did at the funeral of Bobby Storey.
He says he he does not think O’Neill realises the immensity of the challenge she faces restoring confidence after this.
But she also says that Arlene Foster’s fall for the resignation of the chief constable over the funeral was not constructive. He says Foster should not be undermining confidence in the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
On Brexit, he says they need to move to a “light touch” implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol.
Ending his speech, he says the message is that the violence must stop. And he urges MLAs to show full support for the police.
And that’s it. The debate is over.
The current Ulster Unionist party leader is Steve Aiken. In the debate he told MLAs:
Organised criminal gangs bringing out children, young people and others to commit acts of destruction helps no-one and no cause.
The imagery this portrays of 21st century Northern Ireland into our second century is not something that anyone should want to see. This violence must stop before anyone is killed.
Mike Nesbitt is a former UUP leader, not the current one, as an earlier post wrongly said. That’s been corrected. I’m sorry for the mistake.
Back in the debate the DUP’s Trevor Clarke criticises the police for facilitating the Bobby Storey funeral. He says there is no doubt that that happened.
He says he wants to end the violence. But MLAs need to listen to the concerns being expressed, he says.
He says the assembly needs to look at the issues causing concern. “There is real, palpable anger out there today,” he says.
The DUP’s Joanne Bunting says rioting is never acceptable, but the people who are engaged in it have seen that in the past it has paid off – sometimes because it has led to areas getting extra funding.
And she says those involved will have seen the law being “blatantly broken” at the Bobby Storey funeral. She says that implied there was one law for one group, and one law for another. And it confirmed her view that Northern Ireland has “two-tier policing”, she says.
She says she has been arguing this for five years. And she says although the police force is supposed to engage with all communities, working-class protestant people feel neglected.
She says she does not approve of the way these people have expressed their anger. But their fears and concerns are real, she says.
Mike Nesbitt, the former leader of the Ulster Unionist party, says that when he used to work in broadcasting, he was used to hearing Northern Ireland’s politicians arguing furiously on TV. But in the green room afterwards they were much friendlier, asking about each other’s families.
He says he would like to stand shoulder to shoulder with all members of the assembly on solving Northern Ireland’s problems.
But he says they are being held back by the fact that Sinn Fein has not apologised for what happened at Bobby Storey’s funeral.
He also says there has been a failure to tackle deprivation. He says the areas that were the most deprived 10 or 20 years ago are still the most deprived.
UPDATE: I’ve corrected the first sentence. Nesbitt is a former UUP leader, not the current one.
at 7.33am EDT
Mervyn Storey, a DUP MLA, used his speech in the debate to criticise the attitude of some Sinn Fein politicians. He said they had shown “a barrage of disrespect” to Northern Ireland’s centenary. He also complained that the SDLP had told unionists to “suck it up” when the DUP expressed concerns about the Northern Ireland protocol.
And he also criticised Naomi Long, the Alliance leader, for saying people were lied to over Brexit. People should mind their language, he said.