Sporadic rioting has broken out in towns and cities across Northern Ireland (NI) over recent weeks. Since the end of March, dozens of police officers have been injured in the worst street violence to be reported in NI for years. Last month, the violent unrest prompted police to use water cannons to disperse crowds for the first time in six years, as crowds of predominantly loyalist youths attacked lines of riot police with bricks, petrol bombs, and fireworks. The violence first broke out between gangs of youths back in late March, in an area of Londonderry typically associated with loyalists – those who support NI remaining part of the UK. Protests and riots broke out on a near-nightly basis over the first week of April, with incidents reported in Belfast, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, and Newtonabbey. In early April, fighting spilt over a so-called peace wall in west Belfast which separates loyalist areas from predominantly Catholic nationalist communities. Unlike loyalist communities, nationalists favour a united Ireland. A gate along the wall was reportedly smashed open, leading to several hours of disorder – during which police officers and a press photographer were attacked, while a bus was hijacked and set alight. The clashes raised concerns over heightened sectarian tensions.