Flag protest at Belfast City Hall

Published Saturday, 22 December 2012
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A small protest over the council decision to restrict the flying of the Union flag has ended peacefully at Belfast City Hall.

Flag protest at Belfast City Hall
A small protest is underway at Belfast City Hall. (© Pacemaker)

Approximately 60-70 people gathered to demonstrate, some of whom were carrying Union flags.

Police in riot gear were at the scene and guarded the road to keep traffic flowing.

The front gates were closed as a safety precaution, according to UTV reporter Sarah Clarke, who was at the scene.

The crowd marched round City Hall before dispersing.

Around 20 people then made their way to the Upper Newtownards Road and staged a demonstration there.

A PSNI spokesperson said both protests ended peacefully.

The Christmas market remains open and trading is continuing as normal on what should be the busiest trading day of the year.

Glyn Roberts, Chief executive of the NI Independent Retail Trade Association says it is a crucial day for businesses as millions of pounds in sales have been lost by traders over the last few weeks because of the ongoing disruption.

"This has been a difficult year in retail terms, it's been a difficult Christmas as the result of the ongoing protests," he said.

We hope that people will get out today and don't be put off by the protests.

Glyn Roberts, NI Independent Retail Trade Association

He added: "There's no doubt that millions have been lost, it's forced many people to shop online so what we're calling for is to support traders in these last few days before Christmas.

"It's not just retailers that have lost out, it's hotels, it's restaurants that have (had) bookings cancelled."

Demonstrations across Northern Ireland have continued into a third week, after a council vote to restrict the flying of the Union flag to 17 designated days a year.

The majority of protests have been peaceful but have caused major traffic disruption and police officers have been injured during sporadic violence which has broken out.

Two petrol bombs were thrown at police officers in east Belfast after a protest on Friday.

Police dealt with almost 50 demonstrations within an hour on as protestors blocked roads.

Protests have been held at City Hall for the third weekend since the vote, the latest was attended in smaller numbers after previously attracting up to 2,000 people.

A peace rally at the municipal building also attracted hundreds of people last week.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
71 Comments
Paul in Dublin wrote (645 days ago):
Happy Christmas to everyone in Ireland.
Oliver Loughnan in Belfast wrote (645 days ago):
Just wondering how these dedicated protesters are getting on today (25-12-12). I am sure in there self sacrificing way they will be forgoing the pleasures of dinner ar home to do the far more important duty of trying to uphold their "heritage"
seamas in belfast wrote (645 days ago):
Robert in Toronto carefully avoids the question. Do people in Toronto have the right not to fly a flag? It’s a simple enough question.
Ryan in Belfast wrote (646 days ago):
@Robert, Toronto, Canada. Robert, i think we can all maybe guess which party you would be voting if you could if you still lived in the 6 counties, more likey TUV or PUP, some hardline, bigoted party. Robert, i live in Ireland, Belfast, not the UK. I dont care what you say, what some map says or what some politican says lol As for the Union flag, it was voted down by democratic vote. Thats democracy.
strabane in strabane wrote (646 days ago):
robert dosent the canadians have a french state with the french flag ????
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BRIAN ROWAN
Two comments, spoken tongue-in-cheek, nonetheless summed up the mood and the mire that is Stormont politics.
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