'Non-silence for peace' at City Hall

Published Sunday, 16 December 2012
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Over 1,000 people clapped, cheered and banged drums during a five minute "non-silence for peace" at Belfast City Hall.

'Non-silence for peace' at City Hall
The peace rally at City Hall. (© Pacemaker)

Crowds gathered from around 11am on Sunday morning for the rally, which was in response to the trouble which has flared over flags in recent weeks.

Organisers said it was about "promoting peace and showing the world that Northern Ireland has moved on from the Troubles".

Up to 1,200 people clapped, chanted, cheered and banged drums - while motorists took part by tooting their horns - in a bid to send out a peaceful message.

It lasted for around five minutes before the gathering dispersed at 12am.

People of all ages and from all communities took part in the event, which was promoted through social networking sites and had the permission of the PSNI.

Organiser Paul Currie, an artist from Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, said: "This was a call for legal gathering of the people of Northern Ireland to show our neighbours and the world once and for all that we are not about two communities at war, but that Northern Ireland has moved on."

The peaceful silent majority need to be heard too.

Organiser Paul Currie

"Northern Ireland is about many nationalities and religions, colours and creeds living peacefully together. This is not about a flag it is about peace and freedom."

It was the second peace rally in as many days, after several hundred people - including church leaders - linked arms around City Hall in an early morning vigil on Saturday.

PSNI Superintendent John McCaughan commended everyone involved in the two rallies.

He said: "I was greatly heartened by the dignified and responsible way in which these events were conducted and marshalled and I would like to praise all of those involved, especially the organisers and stewards whose contribution was greatly appreciated."

The street violence over the past fortnight has followed Belfast council's decision to stop flying the Union flag from the building all year round.

The latest in a series of protests saw around 1,000 loyalists demonstrate peacefully in city centre on Saturday amid a heavy police presence.

PUP leader Billy Hutchinson said the process surrounding the removal of the flag was "flawed" and "illegal" and suggested it may be possible to challenge the decision to put it back.

Meanwhile the UUP and DUP said they hope to reveal an initiative to defuse the flag protests on Monday.

Forty people have been arrested so far in connection with the disorder - according to the PSNI, 28 of them have been charged with a range of offences, including rioting, disorderly behaviour, resisting arrest and assault on police.

Almost 30 police officers have been injured, meanwhile a number of politicians have been subjected to death threats.

It is believed more flag protests have been organised for next week.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Poppy in Belfast wrote (769 days ago):
So these people exercising their right to protest against other people's right to protest? And that man brought his children to a protest to show them that everything isn't about protesting? Jesus H Christ
Ryan in Belfast wrote (770 days ago):
@Jackie, Belfast. Jackie, i also think you need to look up the defination of bigotry too. Jackie, yes i usually do condemm orange parades but only those parades that demand, actually DEMAND, to walk through nationalist/Catholic areas because we all know they just want to rubb catholics nose into the unjust past. Jackie, i have no love for britishness, thats true because i assure you britishness has no love for me or my Irish nationality and centuries worth of history back distant and recent past has long proved that, so dont expect me and other catholics to be celebrating the 12th july like you do. Orange parades to Catholics is like Nazis celebrating Nazi Germany in front of Jews, thats just the way it is.
david in ni wrote (770 days ago):
the belfast agreement was an ira wish list,now unionists who where gullable enough to vote for it are seeing what they voted for.Nothing has changed in northern ireland,as the provos are still bombing and murdering under a range of different names,a fact which the british goverment ignores to keep this rotten so called peace agreement.The so called unionist population in ni have only themselves to blame as they do not vote.The stunt at the city hall on sunday has alliance all over it.David ford needs to realise that his party is finished at the next election.
Peter in Belfast wrote (770 days ago):
Well done everybody who took part. We all want jobs. We all want well paid jobs. We all want prosperity. I want a future for all kids. Why couldn't the council have delayed the vote till after Christmas? This will have an enormous impact on local economics. People won't shop. Shops will lose money. More closed stores on our high street during one of the worst recessions we have ever seen. More people out of work. People are leaving my work to get home early to avoid road blocks. Rush hour traffic is at a standstill. That is not good for international employers looking here to invest. I mean, would you invest here if you saw that? Would you? It is beyond arrogance. It is dinosaur politics. A throw back "Everything must drop for the local cultural sensitivities" load of absolute rubbish. I ask you: Did anyone seriously notice the flag at the top of the City Hall? I pass the City Hall every day at least twice and I never noticed it. Am I offended or happy it is taken away? I couldn’t care less. I want to get a promotion at work. I want to pay my mortgage. I want a career path. I want to give a future to my loved ones. I want to make them happy. That is what is important. Not flags! I mean wise up.
HRH Elizabeth Windsor in London wrote (770 days ago):
For goodness sakes stop protesting for and against my flag! I will decide where and when we fly it now bugger orf and keep the streets and market area clear.I may call in for a kangaroo burger for the corgi's but if Donegal Place is blocked, where will we park the helicopter? Regards, HRH Elizabeth.
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