Hundreds at City Hall peace rally

Published Saturday, 15 December 2012
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Hundreds of people have gathered at Belfast City Hall for a peace rally against the recent trouble over flags.

Hundreds at City Hall peace rally
Peace campaigners surround the City Hall. (© Presseye)

Campaigners held hands and surrounded the building for five minutes during the early morning vigil on Saturday.

It comes as protests continue across Northern Ireland over the council's decision to stop flying the Union flag all year.

Andrew Masters, who organised the peace demonstration, said he believes a powerful message has been sent out.

"We feel that this year has been in many ways incredibly positive through the 'Our Time Our Place' (tourist board campaign)," he said. "But, what the past 10 days have shown us is that we have come so far we still have quite a journey ahead of us.

"We just wanted to stand and pray for hope and peace."

Several church leaders also took part.

Further flag protests are expected to be held outside the building later, as well as in a number of other towns and also in Glasgow, Scotland.

Meanwhile police said they are going to do all they can to prevent disruption to shopping during what is expected to be a busy day in city centre.

But they are concerned some protestors may engage in violence.

Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton said: "Police are determined to do everything we can to ensure people are safe and can go about their lawful business.

"I have concerns that some elements may seek to use today's protests to engage in violent confrontation with our officers.

"To remain within the law protestors should not block roads or prevent the free flow of vehicle or pedestrian traffic. The protest should not be conducted in a manner or location that is likely to cause a breach of the peace. Protestors should not conceal their identity by covering their face; they should remain peaceful and not use violent or threatening behaviour."

Loyalists have staged a series of protests across Northern Ireland since the decision was taken at City Hall to reduce the number of days the Union flag is flow.

Some of them have targeted the Alliance Party, which holds the balance of power on the council, while politicians from several parties have received threats.

Forty people have been arrested so far and 28 of them have been charged with a range of offences, including rioting, disorderly behaviour, resisting arrest and assault on police.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Hooper in West Belfast wrote (772 days ago):
Jeepers, there's some moaners and MOPEs on here. Why on earth would you want to whinge about protesters protesting against violence.
Peaceful in Lisburn wrote (773 days ago):
It was Christians gathering together praying for peace not a waste of time, what harm has it done at least they are trying to make a difference, I myself was there and it was great to see people untied in a peaceful way caring for the country from all over Northern Ireland
cant win in ards wrote (773 days ago):
if the police go in hard against the rioters they are at fault, if they dont go in they are at fault, catch 22?
gazza in belfast wrote (773 days ago):
sean in uk wrote (773 days ago):
why dont these peace people go to derry or lurgan and protest? this is where all the violence occurs , why protest against people who are only want a flag of the country to fly over the capital city?
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