A DUP MP has issued an appeal for attacks on police in Northern Ireland to stop and also condemned Sinn Féin "arrogance" amid scenes of disorder.

Gregory Campbell was speaking after 30 petrol bombs were thrown at officers in Co Antrim in what has been termed an "orchestrated attack".

Police were attacked in Newtownabbey on the outskirts of Belfast on Saturday, after violent scenes in the Sandy Row area in the city as well as in Derry on Friday.

Police said it was the fifth consecutive night of disorder in Derry on Friday, when 12 officers were injured by a large group throwing masonry, bottles, petrol bombs and fireworks.

Some 27 police officers were injured on Friday night across Belfast and Derry.

Mr Campbell called for calm on Sunday and urged attacks on the police to stop.

"Those attacking the police should stop," he said.

"Rioting and injuring rank and file officers will only result in young people being criminalised."

The East Derry MP also criticised Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly for comments on Saturday about the disorder.

Mr Kelly claimed the disturbances were "a direct consequence of the actions of political unionism" and accused "DUP rhetoric" of sending a "very dangerous message to young people in loyalist areas".

Tensions have soared within the loyalist community in recent months over post-Brexit trading arrangements which have been claimed to have created barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Anger ramped up further last week following a controversial decision not to prosecute 24 Sinn Féin politicians for attending a large-scale republican funeral during Covid-19 restrictions.

All the main unionist parties have demanded the resignation of PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne, claiming he has lost the confidence of their community.

Meanwhile in Co Antrim, a recent series of drug seizures against the South East Antrim UDA - a renegade faction of the main grouping - have caused particular ill-feeling towards police. The faction is believed to have been behind the disturbances in Newtownabbey on Saturday.

Mr Campbell accused Mr Kelly and Sinn Fein of "arrogance" and "not recognising the major part they played in creating" anger in the community.
 

'Don't get pulled into something which will ruin your life' - Foster

Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster has appealed to young people in loyalist areas not to be drawn into further violence

"I know that many of our young people are hugely frustrated by the events of this last week, but causing injury to police officers will not make things better," she told Downtown Radio.

"I send my strong support to all of the rank and file police officers that are on duty over this Easter weekend. I appeal to our young people not to get drawn into disorder, which will lead to them having criminal convictions and blight in their own lives.

"I also ask parents to play their part, and be proactive in protecting their young adults."

Ms Foster added: "On this Easter weekend, please stay safe with your families don't get pulled into something which will ruin your life."

Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly, a member of the Northern Ireland policing board, said the trouble in loyalist areas was "an out-working of the DUP's rhetoric and undermining of the PSNI and criminal justice system."

He added: "By their words and actions they have sent a very dangerous message to young people in loyalist areas."

'No-one needs the added pressure of disorder in their community'

The PSNI's North Area Commander Chief Superintendent Davy Beck said 30 petrol bombs were thrown at officers and three cars set alight in Newtownabbey on Saturday.

He said from around 7.30pm to 10.30pm a crowd of 20 to 30 people, including young people and older men, some of whom were wearing masks, gathered in the O'Neill Road/Cloughfern area.

"In total 30 petrol bombs were thrown at police and three vehicles were hijacked and set on fire," he said.
Mr Beck said it was an "orchestrated attack on police".

"We are living in unprecedented times, dealing with a global pandemic, no-one needs the added pressure of disorder in their community," he said.

"I would appeal to those who are taking to the streets to stop immediately, their actions are causing nothing but harm and distress to the very communities they claim they are representing."

On Sunday evening the PSNI announced that a 47-year-old man has been charged in connection with rioting, and throwing a petrol bomb in Newtownabbey.

He is due to appear at Belfast Magistrates' Court on 26 April.

Meanwhile seven people have been charged after the disturbances in the Sandy Row area.

Four adults - three men aged 25, 21 and 18 years old, and a woman aged 19 - have been charged with riot.
All four are due to appear at Belfast Magistrates' Court on 30 April.

Three teenagers, aged 17, 14 and 13, have also been charged with riot. 

They are due to appear at Belfast Youth Court on 30 April.