UVF members 'behind flag trouble'

Published Monday, 07 January 2013
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PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott says senior members of the UVF, acting as individuals, have been increasingly orchestrating the violence which has followed flag protests in east Belfast.

UVF members 'behind flag trouble'
A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast (© Presseye)

A total of 96 people have now been arrested since the trouble began in December, when City Council voted to reduce the number of days the Union flag flies at City Hall.

Police came under attack for a fourth consecutive night on Sunday as they dealt with disorder in the Castlereagh Street, Albertbridge Road, Beersbridge Road, and Mountpottinger Road areas.

The Chief Constable said there is "no excuse" for the violence, which has led to 62 officers being injured.

Mr Baggott said: "Senior members of the UVF in east Belfast as individuals have been increasingly orchestrating some of this violence.

"That is utterly unacceptable and is being done for their own selfish motives."

Seventy-three people have been charged in connection with the trouble.

Five have been reported to the Public Prosecution Service, 17 have been released on bail and one person has been de-arrested, police said.

It is understood children as young as 10 have been involved in the trouble.

At the moment there is a lack of control, which for me is very worrying.

Matt Baggott

Matt Baggott said the PSNI has the resources to deal with the situation at present, but warned that it could undermine his ability to tackle dissidents in the long term.

"I would like everybody involved in these protests now to take a step back," he continued.

"My ambition is that the protests will come to an end, although you appreciate that the police are not in control of that.

"But if not, at the very least those involved in the protests should be off the road, not causing obstruction, absolutely condemning violence and ensuring that these young people are not involved.

"And that requires a concerted effort from politicians and those who have put themselves up as organisers acting together and from parents and responsible members of the community."

PUP leader Billy Hutchinson met with Mr Baggott on Sunday following allegations of police heavy-handedness - which the PSNI chief has rejected.

Mr Hutchinson called on those involved in the UVF to desist from protests.

"What we need to be clear about is that he's talking about from Friday night, he's not talking about previous to that where other people have been saying this," he told UTV.

"I got a similar analysis yesterday and what I am saying now is that I am asking people involved in the UVF in east Belfast if they are involved to desist - let's give the protest back to the people and allow the people to have peaceful protests."

The bill for the ongoing policing operation is thought to be around £4m so far.

The trouble started last month following Belfast City Council's vote to limit the number of days the union flag is displayed at City Hall.

On Monday night, the council met for the first time since the flag controversy erupted.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil's Justice Spokesman has called for a flag protest, which is planned in Dublin city centre on Saturday, to be called off.

Niall Collins TD said: "I respect everyone's right to engage in peaceful protest. However, I believe that Willie Frazer's stated intention to take three busloads of loyalist protesters to Dublin this weekend is ill-judged and I would call on him to rethink the plan."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Honest Taxpayer in Belfast wrote (751 days ago):
If these idiots would actually take time to read the newspapers or watch the news (or maybe that presumes intelligence and literacy) they would learn that the flag only flies above town halls / city hall equivalent buildings in England on 17 days per year. Matt Baggot and his team need to get tough. Arrest them all and send them to a cold prison cell with a few years to contemplate how important the flag really is.
Michael in Belfast wrote (751 days ago):
What is it that all these loyalis and unionists don't get? It's quite simple really. The MAJORITY of people in Belfast are nationalist, ie Irish. The tricolour is our flag. We will never permit the Union Jack 365 again. Ever. The next discussion I look forward to is when our flag goes up on designated days, st Patrick's day being one of them. All this criminality, thuggery and vandalism by low life's and the whattabouttery and deflection unionist leaders is falling on deaf ears. Britain does not care what happens here.... Only 40% her consider themselves British and that number is dwindling all the while. Either accept our irishness as we so your Britishness (designated days was a compromise) be prepared to waste uour life in jail for rioting
Fed Up in Belfast wrote (751 days ago):
Some people should really listen to themselves! So the violence on the streets will go away if the Union Flag is put back up at the city hall in Belfast, in other words, it's okay to riot to get what you want? If you believe this then you won't mind when mindless thugs in Nationalist areas do the same during the marching season? Flying the Union Flag on designated days does not in any way strip anyone of their Britishness, if you feel that way then you can't have been to British bfore the designated days policy came into effect either in Belfast or anywhere else in the UK. How come British people in England, Scotland and Wales don't feel any less British when the Union Flag is flown only on designated days in their respective countries? The eyes of the world are once again on our city and for all the wrong reasons. After the successes in recent years politically and culturally, bringing huge events to the city, the actions of small minded, easily led people on our streets over the last 6 weeks, are causing as much damage to this city and further afield as 40 years of 'The Troubles', people are afraid to visit Belfast for any reason be it shopping, socialising or tourism. I spoke with a lady from London the other day, she was in Belfast on business. She said that she has been visiting Belfast for 8 years and loves the place and the people but the recent protests and riots have made her embarrassed to admit that she is British, she has begun referring to herself as English, she is also thinking of reducing the amount of time she spends in Belfast!
Fed up in Belfast wrote (751 days ago):
I consider myself a unionist, and support our flag being flown, but the violence is absolutely ridiculous! These thugs have tarnished all unionist- we all now look like a bunch of stupid bigots, while ot makes the republicans look like poor little victims to people all over the world! They are wrecking our communities, our economy- putting people out of jobs/making part timers lose hours, and I am totally embarassed to be considered a unionist alongside that lot! They don't care for anything, being British, as this is not a British thing to do! Get the queen to condemn the violence and see if that makes them stop- I doubt it, they just want an excuse to go out and riot, bunch of idiots, this is exactly what sinn fien / IRA want!!! Go and educate yourselves! You're and embarrassment to the entire UK!!!
Realistic in planet earth wrote (751 days ago):
@ Robert in crossgar "but Government UK main land or the Queen don't seen to care, where is there input ??? after all they don't mind taking our income TAX money ,so why don't they back us ???? " Robert, I think your post answers itself.... Don't you find their silence deafening? THEY DON'T CARE - NORTHERN IRELAND IS NO USE TO THEM! yes we pay tax, but it's costing them more to keep NI than they collect, we have no natural resources (like the Falklands). I have no political views on 'British' or 'Irish' for this messed up place apart from assuring you that neither the British or Irish want us, and I can't think of anyone who actually does.......lol.
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