Published Thursday, 11 August 2011
Members of the Republican Network for Unity claim that the Justice Minister, Alliance Party leader David Ford, has reneged on a deal over strip searches in Maghaberry prison.
Following talks between the prison service and inmates last August, an agreement was reached to end random full-body searching before domestic and legal visits.
In a statement released hours before the incident, RNU spokesman Ciaran Cunningham said: "Given the growing crisis in Maghaberry Gaol, RNU again demand that the Agreement is implemented before the situation deepens.
"We also demand an immediate meeting with Mr Ford before the protest escalates further and seek a resolution."
Dramatic scenes outside Alliance HQ - republican protester resisting arrest.
UTV’s Sharon O’Neill on Twitter (@sharon_utv)
It is understood two people were removed from the building on University Street by police - they, and a teenager outside, were arrested as the area was cleared.
Mr Ford said: "This matter is being dealt with by the PSNI. We will be making no further comment.
"All Alliance Party representatives will continue to offer a service to constituents in an open and accessible manner."
He later described the incident as "clearly horrifying".
"It was worrying to know that people would abuse the open office (...) and abuse it in such a way that gave some concerns to members of staff," he told UTV.
Three people have since been charged in connection with the incident and are all due to appear in court on 7 September.
A 16-year-old boy faces charges of disorderly behaviour and obstructing police, while two men - aged 34 and 35 - are accused of behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace.
© UTV News