Police attacked during flag disorder

Published Monday, 17 December 2012
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Police have come under attack after violence flared across Northern Ireland following a number of street protests against the decision to reduce the number of days the Union flag flies at Belfast City Hall.

Police attacked during flag disorder
Trouble erups in the Sandy Row area of Belfast (© UTV)

Fifteen people, including an 11-year-old, have been arrested after trouble erupted in parts of Belfast, Lisburn, Carrickfergus, Armagh and Portadown on Monday night.

A PSNI officer was injured during unrest at Sandy Row in south Belfast where missiles were thrown. A car was also set on fire.

Police came under attack from a group of up to 200 loyalist protesters in east Belfast as they dealt with disorder on the Lower Newtownards Road. There were also reports that a journalist was attacked in the area.

Both areas have now reopened to traffic after crowds dispersed amid a heavy police presence.

Meanwhile UTV understands a police officer was hurt in Portadown after a bottle was thrown in the Shamrock Park area of the town.

Earlier a man was taken to hospital after he was knocked down by a car on the Northway during a flag protest.

In Carrickfergus, police are investigating after a number of protesters stormed the town hall where a public meeting was disrupted and a number of public representatives threatened.

Local Alliance Councillor Noel Williams said about five protesters banged on desks and chairs in what he described as an "attack on democracy."

Police said a crowd of up to 150 people made their way to the public building on Monday evening.

They dispersed the crowd outside before advising those inside when it was safe to leave. No-one was injured.

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

Christmas is less than one week away and now is the time to bring this to an end.

ACC Dave Jones

Police also dealt with disorder in the cities of Lisburn and Armagh.

Nine youths have been arrested in Lisburn after what police describe as "serious disorder".

Five boys, the youngest aged 11, were detained in the Hillsborough Road area, while four youths and a 31-year-old were arrested in the Longstone Street area.

A 19-year-old man has been arrested after a firework was thrown at police in Armagh during a protest attended by about 150 people.

Police said around 80 protests took place across Northern Ireland during rush hour traffic on Monday evening as the row over the restriction of the flying of the Union Flag at Belfast City Hall entered its third week.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Dave Jones said: "While most of the protests were peaceful, the violence witnessed in some areas tonight is totally unacceptable.

"This is now the third week of protests and I am appealing to everyone involved to take a step back from this. It cannot and should not continue. There were arrests this evening and more will follow as we now trawl through evidence gathered by officers out on the ground.

"I am appealing to those wishing to protest to consider how their actions are affecting the wider community who simply want to enjoy the festive period with their friends and families in peace."

Officers monitored a gathering outside the Alliance Party offices on the Upper Newtownards Road in east Belfast.

The Shore Road was closed for a time at the junction of Mount Vernon Road.

A 25-year-old man was arrested in the Bruce Street area of Belfast on public order offences, while an 18-year-old man was held in the Blyth Street area of the city.

The Crumlin Road at Hesketh Park was also affected by demonstrations - as was Station Road in Whiteabbey.

In Londonderry, the Glendermott Road into the city was blocked at Rossdowney Road.
Coleraine town, Broughshane village and Ballyclare town centre at Rashee Road were also affected.

Police in Ballymena have arrested a 20-year-old for public order offences in the Crebilly Road area.

First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness are expected to hold talks with party leaders at Stormont later this week.

They met with Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers on Monday to discuss the flags row, which started earlier this month after Belfast Councillors voted to only fly the Union Flag on designated days.

"I have today urged Northern Ireland's political leaders to come together to find a way forward to resolve the ongoing protests on flags," Ms Villiers said.

"It is vital that all the parties work together to make progress towards a cohesive and shared society where decisions on issues like flags can be made in a way which respects different views and takes into account the different traditions and identities of modern Northern Ireland."

On Monday night, UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said: "The Ulster Unionist Party distances itself entirely from all violence. It is time to move on to something more strategic."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
186 Comments
Paul in A protestant in Belfast wrote (707 days ago):
@get real in ards i would be alot better off in the republic than i am here in N.I. Cost of living is not that much more than here, somethings even cheaper. No high council tax bills, no water rates. Minimum wage is alot more than here as is Jobseekers allowance £160 a week for a single person. Salaries in employment is at least 30% more than england. Alot more people are living in poverty trap or below in the UK compared to the Republic.
fedupNI resident in Belfast wrote (707 days ago):
I think what people need to relaise is that, countries around the world are laughhing at how silly NI must look on their TV screens and on the news at the moment. In relation to John from Antrims comment -John this is not a time to bring up things from the past, as what good does that do??? also the same could be said for anyome who spoke out againist loyalists back then also ended up with a bullet in the head, so what amazes me is, that a lot of people still hold on to a lot of bitterness etc -THE PAST IS THE PAST -its time this counrty moved forward and thats what the majority of this country want TO MOVE TOWARDS a shared future. Mabe a new flag for NI is the way to go as this is all getting beyond a joke now, and its simple we live in a demoracy where majority rules and thats how the vote was taken -so it is really time to move on and I still do not understand how the flying of a flag on designated days makes any e 1 feel less british -to me they must be lacking someting inside to feel this way and it really says it all when a 11 year old is arrested during the riots!!!
Balance in Belfast wrote (707 days ago):
Conor a shared society is one in which culture is shared - 50/50, not complete removal. This would mean compromise so that instead of Sein fein wanting total removal of the flag they would have suggested half of the year. Youve got to see it from both sides - where is the sharing if someone wants it taken away completely. It also means sharing in culture I.e each 'side' being allowed freedom to celebrate their culture whether this be marching, sport whatever. That is why Protestants are reacting as they feel their culture is under threat, they feel that there are constant efforts to remove it.
Brendan in Belfast wrote (707 days ago):
I'm reading through some of the comments here and I'm gobsmacked. The flag issue could have been left up until after Christmas yes that would have been a good idea. However equally the protests could have waited to after Christmas. If the protests were being carried out according to law then no traffic would be affected, police wouldnt be attacked and there wouldnt be death threats sent to political members. At the end of the day there was a DEMOCRATIC VOTE, you elected people in to represent you if you dont like it dont vote them in again. People need to realise that we have a share culture here and respect needs to be shown across the board. And its idiotic for calls of a country wide vote, you cant do this every time a vote goes the other way. Look up the term democratic, learn it and for heavens sake show some respect and do things legally.
j.a in belfast wrote (708 days ago):
The unoin flag will be back....watch this space...and you republicans know it lol...
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