Fourth night of trouble in east Belfast

Fourth night of trouble in east Belfast

Trouble has erupted in east Belfast for the fourth consecutive night, in the wake of a loyalist flag protest on Sunday night.

Police said they dealt with public disorder in the Castlereagh Street, Albertbridge Road, Beersbridge Road, and Mountpottinger Road areas.

Violence broke out shortly before 9pm.

Officers came under attack from fireworks and missiles, including bottles and bricks.

UTV's Marc Mallett said a car was set alight at the Templemore Avenue junction with Beersbridge Road. He said violence was not "on the same scale as previous nights".

It came as PUP leader Billy Hutchinson met with PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott on Sunday night following allegations of police heavy-handedness.

He called for flag protests to remain peaceful.

"I do want to reiterate that what we want to see is peaceful protests," he said in a YouTube statement.

Earlier community, political and religious leaders met at Rev Mervyn Gibson's Westbourne Presbyterian Church to discuss the violence.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt, who attended the meeting in the afternoon, said it was "useful and positive".

"I unreservedly condemn all acts of violence and intimidation against police officers, elected representatives, other members of society, homes and property. There is neither excuse nor justification for resorting to violence," he said.

The only way forward is through democracy.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt

Meanwhile, Justice Minister David Ford has called for an urgent meeting of all party leaders.

The Alliance leader said: "Leaders must be united in their condemnation of the violence and attacks on police.

"The leaders of all parties must also speak with one voice when calling for the protests to cease, making clear that any solution must be a political one.

"It is essential that those charged with leadership actually start to act like statesmen and not partisan politicians."

Elsewhere, police in Ballymena said they dealt with "instances of public disorder in the Ballykeel area" where a road was blocked on Sunday night.

It is understood the trouble erupted outside Ballykeel Presbyterian Church, disrupting people going to the service.

Police said a petrol bomb was thrown, while a number of bins were set alight.

Earlier, Mr Baggott said police will deal with rioting "for however long is necessary".

"The Police Service will continue to do everything possible to maintain law and order and we will deal firmly with outbreaks of violence," the Chief Constable said.

"As you have seen in the last few days we will continue to apprehend and put people before the courts."

A 52-year-old has become the latest man charged with disorderly behaviour, in connection with rioting in Belfast. He will appear at Belfast Magistrates' Court on Monday.

As is normal procedure all charges will be reviewed by the PPS.


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