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Robinson in east Belfast flag talks

Peter Robinson was heckled following the talks.

First Minister Peter Robinson has met with loyalist leaders in east Belfast for talks over flags, before a protest took place outside City Hall.

Saturday, 26 January 2013
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The DUP leader spoke to local church and community representatives at the Skainos Centre on the Newtownards Road on Saturday morning.

He described the meeting, which was closed to the press, as "worthwhile". However it is understood that there were some angry exchanges.

Tensions were also high outside, where Mr Robinson was heckled by a small crowd and his car was struck by a flag pole as it made a speedy exit.

"It was a very worthwhile meeting," he told UTV. "It was valuable and we'll continue with the meetings.

"There was a range of opinions. Some were supportive of our position, some wanted us to do more, some wanted us to do other things but that's what you find in any large group of people - the important thing is that there's dialogue and we're trying to move the issue forward."

Later a demonstration took place in city centre for the eighth consecutive weekend.

There was a heavy police presence at Belfast City Hall, where several hundred people gathered to protest against restrictions to the flying of the Union flag.

A large number of them walked from east Belfast as armoured vehicles lined the route.

Members of the crowd have signed official letters of complaint.

The M3 offslip down to Middlepath Street and the Sydenham offslip at Bridge End were closed to traffic for a time but have now been re-opened. The protest at city hall passed off without major incident.