Carrick council meeting stormed

Published Tuesday, 18 December 2012
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The Alliance Party has described an incident in which five protesters stormed a meeting inside Carrickfergus Borough Council to stage a flag protest as a "full frontal attack on democracy".

Carrick council meeting stormed
Police dispersed the crowd outside Carrick town hall. (© UTV)

A number of councillors were threatened on Monday night when a small group of loyalists entered the Town Hall during a loyalist demonstration.

Police said a crowd of up to 150 people, who protested at Irishgate Roundabout, made their way to the public building through the Co Antrim town.

Local Alliance Party Councillor Noel Williams said that about five protesters infiltrated the meeting in the council chamber.

He claimed the politicians were subjected to verbal abuse by protesters who banged on desks and chairs with implements, "leaving many feeling threatened".

"It is unacceptable that the Town Hall was not under police surveillance, especially as violence has broken out at previous protests," he said.

"People have a right to protest peacefully, but this incident tonight put many people's safety at risk and must not be tolerated.

"We live in a democratic society and Councillors were meeting tonight as part of this process."

Cllr Williams continued: "The Alliance Party has consistently called for protests like these to stop, letting politicians unite as they find a way forward."

The crowd outside was dispersed by the PSNI, before officers advised those inside when it was safe to leave. No-one was injured.

A 30-year-old man was later arrested in the Minorca Place area of the town on public order offences.

Police are investigating the incident.

Around 80 protests took place across Northern Ireland on Monday evening as the row over the restriction of the flying of the Union Flag at Belfast City Hall entered its third week.

Earlier this month Belfast councillors voted to fly the flag only on designated days. The Alliance Party office in Carrick was set alight following a large protest in the wake of the decision.

Cllr Williams said "local businesses and the community at large" were suffering in the run-up to Christmas as a result of the protests.

© UTV News
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3 Comments
lll in co. antrim wrote (570 days ago):
It was partly the alliance's fault the flag got took down
NIC in Belfast wrote (590 days ago):
Why did the Council not have Security cover in place, if they could just walk into the council building unchallenged, they could have went into other rooms and caused severe damage to the Town Hall building . Anybody must be able to walk in as they please, tighten up
Ryan in Belfast wrote (591 days ago):
Absolutey disgusting behaviour from Loyalists but sure whats new. I dont know why their targetting Alliance councillors since it was alliance that helped keep the Union flag on city hall or maybe their choosing to threaten Alliance because they knoww those tactics dont work in any shape or form when it comes to SF/SDLP. Its about time these protests were banned, they've went on long enough and are just an excuse for trouble. The PSNI have got to get their act together and properly deal with these thugs.
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BRIAN ROWAN
The pictures from Stormont this week showed us how politics here still walks in and out of step.
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