Roads reopened after flag protests

Protestors move off a south Belfast road to let an ambulance through.

Protests over the restricting of the flying of the Union Flag at Belfast City Hall have taken place across Northern Ireland, as police worked to keep traffic flowing on Friday evening.

Friday, 21 December 2012
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Officers had warned motorists to expect delays, with demonstrations having been planned at a large number of locations in Belfast and beyond.

A number of roads were closed for a time, but have since been cleared.

The Lower Newtownards Road in the east of the city was closed between Bridgend and Templemore Avenue due to a protest taking place, but has since reopened.

A PSNI spokesperson said: "There will be a significant police presence throughout the evening. As always, the primary focus will be keeping people safe."

Earlier, small numbers of protestors had blocked the Boyne Bridge at Sandy Row, while Templemore Avenue at the Albertbridge Road and the Beersbridge Road in east Belfast were closed to traffic.

Donegal Road at Broadway, Sandy Row and Upper Malone Road in the south of the city were affected.

Protests were also held in Bangor, Carrickfergus and Ballyclare.

The demonstrations are into their third week, following a vote at Belfast City Council which saw the number of days when the Union Flag is flown at City Hall reduced to 17 designated days.

While many have been peaceful, violence broken out at some of the protests and a number of police officers have been injured.

Politicians have also been targeted during disorder, with Alliance constituency offices attacked and the party's MP Naomi Long among the representatives who have been the subject of a death threat.