Police 'under attack' in east Belfast

Published Friday, 04 January 2013
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Police say they have come under sustained attack during serious disorder after a loyalist flag protest in east Belfast on Friday night.

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Petrol bombs, bricks and fireworks have been thrown at officers after trouble erupted for a second consecutive night in the Castlereagh Street and Templemore Avenue areas.

A PSNI spokesman said crowds of up to 300 people were involved in the rioting.

"A number of officers have been injured and several arrests made," he said.

"Police continue to advise motorists to avoid the area."

The sporadic violence intensified during the night and water cannon was deployed to the scene.

UTV's Sharon O'Neill said the area was "tense" amid stand-offs and a heavy police presence.

She tweeted: "Scuffles as police make arrest in east Belfast".

Earlier a loyalist flag protest was held at Woodstock Link.

It came after First Minister Peter Robinson strongly condemned the street violence in the area, which left 10 police officers injured on Thursday night.

The violence and destruction visited on the PSNI is a disgrace, criminally wrong and cannot be justified.

Peter Robinson

Mr Robinson said those behind the unrest were playing into the hands of dissident republicans.

"Those responsible are doing a grave disservice to the cause they claim to espouse and are playing into the hands of those dissident groups who would seek to exploit every opportunity to further their terror aims," he said.

Last month, Belfast councillors voted to limit the number of days the Union Flag is flown over City Hall - a decision which the DUP leader has described as "ill-considered and provocative".

"All right-thinking unionists will want to channel their energies into political activity and to support the cause of finding political solutions to the problems that we face," Mr Robinson said.

"In Northern Ireland the ballot box has primacy and is the only vehicle for choosing the people's representatives."

"The real purpose of those who claim to speak for some of the organisers of the protests is fast becoming clear," he added.

"It is a straight-forward politically motivated attempt to undermine the DUP as the voice of unionism despite our attempts to oppose the removal of the Union Flag in Belfast."

On Friday, the Chairman of the Police Federation told UTV he believed the UVF orchestrated violence in the east of the city.

Terry Spence called for harsh jail sentences for anyone involved.

"There's absolutely no doubt this violence was orchestrated by the UVF," he said after the first night of trouble.

More flag protests are planned on Saturday.

© UTV News
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38 Comments
Mac in Newry in Ireland wrote (470 days ago):
What if the loyalists got there own way and the flag did go back up, this could mean nationalists and republicans could come to the streets for protesting, it would never end, the solution to this might be both tricolour and uj being flown, we cant have a few hundred loyalists dictate to us most people just want to move on, if this is the way our democratic society is going to work then its very sad, i bet if the police just stood there the loyalists would still make it out they were getting attacked there just trying to use the media to their advantage. Frazer is really winding everyone up and adding fuel to the fire take that microphone off him! He only speaks for a handful of loyalists! and ulster is not british thats like saying monaghan cavan and donegal are part of the uk, some people really need private geography lessons!
Ciaran in West Yorkshire wrote (470 days ago):
Alex in North Down: I'm just back from Leeds City center and can reassure you that no Union Jack is flying on the Town Hall. Went to Bradford a few days ago and City Hall doesn't fly one either unless on designated days. So stop talking nonsense and just accept that Nationalists are equal citizens in the North of Ireland (Remember - we are talking about 6 of the 9 counties from the old province of Ulster. I don't get it when people say 'our wee country' -that's a very bizarre sense of place). Anyway: I've also just been informed by a family member that York doesn't fly one either, unless of course on designated days. So futile and baseless is the rationale for causing havoc on the streets via their so-called 'Peaceful Protests'. Remember, these are groups of tooled-up and hooded BNP/Loyalists somehow peacefully blocking roads: aye right, dead peaceful.
Alex in North Down wrote (470 days ago):
Laura in Belfast - a couple of points if I may ? Do not lose sight of the fact that most of the protests (especially those at City Hall) have been both peaceful and lawful. There is always a danger that protests attract the wrong elements and they need to be dealt with according to law. As I understand it there was at a good degree of provocation from residents in the Short Strand - why do they need to take to the streets if they are not attempting to make matters worse ? I saw media reports that Mr Frazer was intending to visit the Republic of Ireland next week to call for the removal of the irish flag from Government Buildings in Dublin. The Irish will of course rightly object to having their national flag removed - well in NI we object to our national flag being removed in exactly the same way! It must be remembered that the key part of the 1998 Agreement was that NI was to remain a part of the UK. Nothing else was on offer. It is not unreasonable to fly the national flag of the country. By the way, on a point of information, many council buildings on the mainland fly the union flag all year round.
angela in ireland wrote (471 days ago):
Catch a grip all this over a FLAG,do u really think this is going to get yous any where who is going to sit down and vote to get the flag back up now after the damage you have caused in your own areas yous are a laughing stock
Tracey in wrote (471 days ago):
There are been a lot of peaceful protests. What the media are not telling is that it is the nationalist short strand who are attacking first and the police are to frightened to go in and sort them out, they turn on the easy targets.......... that's why riots are taking place. Mr Robinson and his party should be ashamed of themselves. When riots are happening at Ardoyne Gerry Kelly is there speaking on behalf of the people............where is our voice? Politicians have deserted the protestant people. They flag flew at city hall for years and years no one had a problem with it until Sinn Fein made it an issue. They are so intimated by the flag of the united kingdom they wouldn't even want it flying at the cenotaph
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