Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney will travel to London on Wednesday for a series of meetings with British ministers to discuss Northern Ireland.

The scheduled visit had been in question following the recent death of Prince Philip.

However, it's now understood the 2-day visit will go ahead, and the talks are expected to focus on the operation of the Northern Ireland protocol, as well as the recent upsurge of violence.

The region saw 12 consecutive nights of violence with a number of PSNI officers injured.

While arrangements for the trip have yet to be finalised, it's anticipated Minister Coveney could meet with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Northern Secretary Brandon Lewis and possibly Cabinet Office Minister David Frost.

Last week, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin spoke by phone with the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson following the upsurge in violence.

Earlier, Northern Ireland's Commissioner for Children and Young People has said criminal gangs, who often use and coerce young people to take part in criminal activities, were behind the recent rioting in Belfast.

Koulla Yiasouma said: "The big men ... and sometimes women in communities" are using the legitimate concerns around Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol to destabilise communities and exert control over them.

She told RTÉ's News at One she believes that young people in Belfast, particularly those who are vulnerable, felt they had no choice but to become involved.

Ms Yiasouma added that she thought this was not the way that most young people wanted to respond but they were being encouraged to do so by "criminal actors".

She said a sustainable plan, borne out of what communities, adults and young people are saying, is needed.

The police can only do some much, she said, and community buy-in is needed in any future plans.

Loyalist concerns cannot be dismissed as 'nonsense', Foster says

Loyalist concerns that the peace process has only delivered for the nationalist community in Northern Ireland must be both listened to and challenged, the First Minister has said.

Arlene Foster said some of the claims she had heard about politics failing loyalism were not true, but she acknowledged they were still "very strongly held perceptions".

The DUP leader’s comments came as Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill urged the UK and Irish governments to get more involved with efforts to return stability to the North after the recent street disorder.

Anger at post-Brexit trading arrangements that have created economic barriers with the rest of the UK has been cited as one factor behind the violence that has erupted in loyalist areas.

Another is the outrage felt by some loyalists at a decision not to prosecute 24 Sinn Féin members, including Ms O’Neill, who attended a huge republican funeral amid lockdown restrictions last year.

But many within the loyalist community have also pointed to more long standing concerns the peace process, particularly the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, has handed them a raw deal.

They cite underinvestment and deprivation in loyalist working class areas as further proof that they have missed out on the gains of peace.

Nationalists and republicans reject this premise, insisting their communities have experienced just has many problems with poverty and unemployment since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

Last week also saw violence flare in some nationalist areas.

On Saturday, DUP chairman Maurice Morrow told the News Letter that the authorities had shown a "total and absolute capitulation to the demands of militant republicanism".

Today, Ms O’Neill described his claims as "nonsense".

Ms Foster, who described the Deputy First Minister’s reaction as "disappointing", said concerns within loyalism could not be ignored.

"All of those things have to be tackled head on and not dismissed as nonsense because, you know, one person’s nonsense is another person’s absolute belief in what is happening at this moment in time," she said.

"And therefore I will not dismiss what people have to say as nonsense."

Ms Foster told BBC Radio Ulster: "I fundamentally believe that responsible leadership doesn’t ignore views from the community because you may not agree with them or they may be difficult to listen to."

She added: "I’m not going to go through all of the things that I’ve heard over this past week, some of which are not true or they are perceptions, but they are very, very strongly held perceptions.

"And how do we change perceptions?

"We change perceptions by engaging, by listening, by actually saying to people ‘well, actually here is what the case is in terms of the loyalist community’."

Ms O’Neill said she did not think loyalism had been left behind.

"I actually see the same challenges in working class loyalist communities that I do in a lot of working class nationalist communities," she told Radio Ulster.

"Poverty isn’t picking and choosing a religion, poverty is happening across the board, so what we need to see delivered upon are anti-poverty strategies, what we need to see is good housing for people, what we need to see is opportunity for a job for people, and that’s across the piece and we only deliver that by working together."

The Sinn Féin vice president accused the UK and Irish governments of taking a "hands-off" approach to the peace process.

"That’s been demonstrated that doesn’t work, our peace process was not an event at a point in time and that’s it done," she said.

"It needs to be nurtured and looked after and the two governments have a role to play as the co-guarantors of the (Good Friday) agreement.

"So yes, both governments should be very much engaged.

"I’ve made that point to the Taoiseach (Micheál Martin), I’ve made that point to (Northern Ireland Secretary) Brandon Lewis and I do believe that it’s time for both governments to get engaged again to be properly engaged in an ongoing way and to ensure the political agreements that were made are delivered upon."

Reacting to suggestions that a summit could be convened to discuss the ongoing issues, Ms O’Neill insisted more sustained engagement was required, rather than a one-off political set piece.

Additional reporting PA