UK & World News
NI Police On Alert Amid Union Flag Tensions
Police are on alert in Belfast after a week of protests over new restrictions on flying the Union flag at City Hall.
Up to 2,000 people took part in a loyalist protest in the city centre on Saturday, which passed off peacefully.
But pockets of violence broke out in east Belfast - with one police officer taken to hospital - as a major security operation got underway to try to prevent a repeat of the clashes on Friday night which saw eight officers injured.
Saturday's demonstration against new restrictions on flying the Union flag at City Hall ended after about an hour with a rendition of God Save The Queen.
Two tricolours were burned amid chants and jeers while protesters sang a number of sectarian songs.
Up to 20 police armoured Land Rovers were lined up on either side of the building while officers in full riot gear with dogs could be seen in the courtyard.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said protesters had dispersed, but there was some disorder in east Belfast and a section of the Newtownards Road was closed.
The Christmas market in Belfast city centre had been temporarily shut down but later re-opened.
On Friday night, eight police officers were injured and more than a dozen people arrested - including a 13-year-old boy - during clashes between loyalists and riot police.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said loyalist paramilitaries had been orchestrating some of the violence seen in the past 24 hours.
"Violence has serious and unwanted consequences for us all and we will robustly investigate all incidents," he said.
"I am urging everyone to be calm, take a step back and think about how this violence is affecting not just their own communities but the whole of Northern Ireland."
Violence erupted when councillors in Belfast voted to limit the number of days the Union Flag could be flown over the City Hall to 17 days a year.
A death threat against the MP Naomi Long, whose Alliance Party tabled a compromise agreement on the issue, led to an escalation in the seriousness of the tensions.
what do you think?
sharia law give us devon and cornwall and we can live in peace side by side. deal or no deal
We have no right to fly the union flag or sing our anthem in what is obviously Irish territory. The protesters should know their history.
exactly david same as the Muslims who feel so strongly about sharia law, should go and live is Saudi Arabia . northern Ireland belongs to Ireland, bunch of English immigrants pushing their muscle
I strongly agree with you,it is rude,and ignorant,and they are in Ireland,not UK! they have no respect,
Hate to break this to you but NI is part of the UK. So they have every right. Next time, bit more research...
lord aurelian research a bit more yourself but i guess being a lord enables you to have a selective memory
david, your right, it is Irish territory....Northern Irish. Part of the UK until such time that the people who live there decide otherwise. It doesn't matter how much you dislike that fact, it remains a fact.
joelle, get some geography and history lessons. your statement is 100% wrong.
Ali, i did a tour there in the 90s. I do know a bit about it. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Check your passport. I hope that clears it up a bit.
What like gibralter and the falklands .lorgar.
Well they are a bit different Shaun as they are Crown Dependancies. But yes it's similar.
Lorgar. Pop band or military? Either way you learned nothing. Re the passport statement it is British by force not by right. That has always been the problem. If someone squatted in your house you would obviously be happy to relinquish it after so many years!
Ever so gently, inch by inch, N. Ireland is being edged into The Republic ! and when it is finally there and the trouble dies down , guess what ? They will all find ( or should I say we will all find ) that our flag is the Blue banner with a ring of stars.
I keep asking or wondering but what flag are they proposing to fly instead of the union flag.
What i dont like is these provocative marches they have all the time.okay part of the march has to pass in front of a catholic church, but they really dont have to march in a ring in front of it.anyway the english have a terrible history in ireland but now its been settled by prostestents so its now as much their home now is well.as goes the falklands, gibralter.
Its all reletively peaceful, so what do the politicians do ? They stir up a load of trouble with there stupid provocative action. Totally unneccessary. Someone will die eventually and their blood will be on the politicians hands. Its almost as if they are not happy with the peace.
It is not only the muslims that cover their faces.
Appeasement never works in the long term, the Belfast city council need to learn this lesson
If the Loyalists had run N/Ireland like the rest of Britain and stopped being less bigoted hating your neighbour because of their religion ,maybe their will be more of your countrymen and soldiers still alive today. Grow up and come into the Twenty First Century Britain cannot afford to carry you any more.
This situation has come about through too many young men being born and then being out of work getting bored. It is high time people were licensed to breed with a maximum of two children and not just in Northern Ireland either.
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