Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 August 2015

Belfast flag violence: New clashes as police use baton rounds on loyalist rioters

Published 08/01/2013

Riots on the lower Newtownards Road January 7 2013
Riots on the lower Newtownards Road January 7 2013
Loyalists protesting in Belfast. January 7 2013
Loyalists protesting in Belfast. January 7 2013
Loyalists protesting in Belfast. January 7 2013
Loyalists protesting in Belfast. January 7 2013
Loyalists protesting in Belfast. January 7 2013
Riots on the lower Newtownards Road January 7 2013
Riots on the lower Newtownards Road January 7 2013
Riots on the lower Newtownards Road January 7 2013
Riots on the lower Newtownards Road January 7 2013
Riots on the lower Newtownards Road January 7 2013
Riots on the lower Newtownards Road January 7 2013
Riots on the lower Newtownards Road January 7 2013
Riots on the lower Newtownards Road January 7 2013
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 7th January 2013 - Trouble breaks out on the lower Newtownards Road after loyalists protested in Belfast city centre this evening as the monthly meeting of Belfast City Council takes place inside Belfast City Hall.A campaign of street demonstrations has been ongoing since Belfast City Council took a vote on 3 December which limited the number of days the union flag is flown at Belfast City Hall.Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Riots on the lower Newtownards Road January 7 2013
A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast
A burned out car during disturbances which erupted in east Belfast
Police on patrol during disturbances which erupted in east Belfast
A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast
A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast
A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast
A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast
PSNI in Castlereagh Street of east Belfast
A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast
PSNI officers in Castlereagh Street of east Belfast
A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Sunday 6th January 2013 - A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast this evening following a loyalist protest. A campaign of street demonstrations has been ongoing since Belfast City Council took a vote on 3 December which limited the number of days the union flag is flown at Belfast City Hall. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Sunday 6th January 2013 - A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast this evening following a loyalist protest.A campaign of street demonstrations has been ongoing since Belfast City Council took a vote on 3 December which limited the number of days the union flag is flown at Belfast City Hall.Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast
Loyalist protesters on their way to Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protesters block of the Newtownards Road Belfast where shots are reported to have been fired on Saturday January 5 2013
Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast City Hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013
Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast City Hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013
Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast City Hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013
Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast City Hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013
Loyalist Protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013. Ongoing protests and demonstrations continue at the removal of the Union flag from the city hall. The protest was largley peacfull with only minor skermishes.Picture Mark McCormick.
PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards after a Loyalist flag protest at Belfast City Hall
Willie Frazer at loyalist protests near Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013
Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013
Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013
Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013
Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013
Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013
Willie Frazer talks to Sara Girvin as loyalist protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013
PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards
SNI officers on the Lower Newtownards
PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards
Loyalist flag protest at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist flag protest at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist flag protest at Belfast City Hall.
PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards
PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards t
Loyalist flag protest at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist flag protest at Belfast City Hall
PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards
PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards
PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards
PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards
PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards
PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards road, Belfast January 5 2013
Castlereagh Street area of east Belfast following loyalist rioting January 3 2013
Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013
Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013
Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013
A burning barricade on the Newtownards road area of Belfast, where police have been targeted by rioters
Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013
Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013
Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013
Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013
Carrickfergus flag protest. January 2, 2013
Carrickfergus Flag Protest, January 2 2013.
Loyalists across Northern Ireland have been protesting since councillors in Belfast voted to limit the number of days they fly the Union flag
Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012
Jackie McDonald has warned that loyalist protests cannot succeed in having the Union flag reinstated above Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012
Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012
Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012
Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012
Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012
Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012
Loyalists block the Sandy Row area of Belfast as part of a mass protest over flags
Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt and First Minister Peter Robinson were among those holding talks about the Union flag dispute in Belfast
Loyalists protesting around the village area in south Belfast December 17 2012
Loyalists protesting, blocking traffic in Derry
Loyalists protesting, blocking traffic in Derry
Loyalists protesting, blocking traffic in Derry
Loyalist hold protests around the village area in south Belfast
Loyalist hold protests around the village area in south Belfast
Loyalist hold protests around the village area in south Belfast
Loyalist hold protests around the village area in south Belfast
Loyalist hold protests around the village area in south Belfast
Loyalist hold protests around the village area in south Belfast
Loyalists taking part in a protest over the restrictions of flying the Union flag protesting outside Belfast City Hall
Up to 1,000 people took part in the cross community Peace Gathering in Belfast city centre
Loyalists in Belfast have been protesting against a decision to reduce the number of days the Union flag will fly from City Hall
Protest outside the Alliance Party office in East Belfast belonging to Naomi Long, following the decision by Belfast City Council to stop flying the union flag every day. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday December 4, 2012. See PA story ULSTER Flag. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire
Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag
Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a flag protest
Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag
Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag
Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag
Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag
Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag
Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag
Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag
Police in Carrick come under attack from protestors following a fire at the Alliance party office
Police in Carrick come under attack from protestors following a fire at the Alliance party office
Aftermath of riots in Carrickfergus. Photograph by Mark Winter
Aftermath of riots in Carrickfergus. Photograph by Mark Winter
Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days. Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest
Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days.
Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days. Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.
Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days. Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.
Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days. Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.
Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days. Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.
Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days. Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.
Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days. Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.
Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days. Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.
Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days. Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest
Loyalist protestors carrying Union flags clash with police outside the City Hall in Belfast
Loyalist protestors carrying Union flags clash with police outside the City Hall in Belfast
Loyalist protestors carrying Union flags clash with police outside the City Hall in Belfast
Loyalist protestors carrying Union flags clash with police outside the City Hall in Belfast
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Police have fired baton rounds and deployed water cannon on rioters as violence linked to the Union Flag row flared in east Belfast again.

The fifth successive night of trouble in the area came after hundreds of loyalists staged a largely peaceful protest at Belfast City Hall.

The disorder erupted as around 250 demonstrators from east Belfast returned from the city centre past a volatile community interface at the republican Short Strand.

Police said a number of missiles were thrown at the protesters from the Short Strand area, where around 70 youths had gathered.

The trouble soon spiralled from there as police moved up the adjacent Newtownards Road to separate rival factions.

Officers were attacked with petrol bombs, paint bombs, fireworks and heavy masonry while rioters damaged vehicles with hatchets and sledge hammers.

Protesters constructed a barricade in the middle of the road and set it on fire.

Police also received reports of an attempted car hi-jacking in the nearby Templemore Avenue area and attempted lorry hi-jacking in the Albertbridge Road area.

Police deployed water cannon and five baton rounds were fired. Calm was restored around 10pm.

The earlier demonstration at Belfast City Hall came as the council met for the first time since its controversial decision to limit the flying of the flag on the roof.

Loyalist protests have been continuing across Northern Ireland since early December in response to the vote by Belfast councillors to only fly the flag above City Hall on designated days instead of all year round.

The first of these days is this Wednesday, when the flag will be raised to mark the birthday of the Duchess of Cambridge.

More than 60 police officers have been injured in flag-related unrest in the last five weeks, with around 100 people arrested.

Last night, two males and two females were arrested in east Belfast for riot and public order offences.

Earlier yesterday Northern Ireland Chief Constable Matt Baggott claimed senior members of the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) had been orchestrating the street violence in east Belfast.

Mr Baggott said there was no evidence that the organisation's leadership endorsed their actions.

Police also reported some disorder last night elsewhere in east Belfast, in the Dundonald area.

Last month, Sinn Fein, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and the cross-community Alliance Party all voted to limit the number of days the flag flies at City Hall, with all unionist members of the council opposing the move.

Since then, elected representatives from all sides and some representing areas beyond Belfast have received death threats. The latest was against SDLP Assembly member for Mid Ulster Patsy McGlone.

A parcel containing a sympathy card referring to Mr McGlone and a bullet was intercepted at a postal sorting office.

The flag issue was not on the formal agenda of last night's Belfast City Council meeting, but councillors did spend an hour debating the matter.

At the outset, DUP lord mayor Gavin Robinson urged members to show moderation in the discussion.

While some angry words were exchanged between councillors on opposing nationalist and unionist benches, the debate was generally even-tempered and well ordered.

Sinn Fein's Jim McVeigh accused unionist politicians of failed leadership and said they had allowed themselves to be "led by the nose" by a small band of extremists.

He said councillors would not be bowed by threats from loyalists.

"We won't be intimidated by those threats," he said.

"Their protests are pointless and they will have absolutely no impact on decisions that we take."

He said his party would respect British tradition but told unionists that respect was "not one way".

But his claims were met with a vociferous response from unionists.

Democratic Unionist councillor for east Belfast Robin Newton accused Mr McVeigh and Sinn Fein of "bulldozing" the flag vote through council.

"It was purely a political decision, a pure political decision," he said, rejecting the claims that unionists had not shown leadership.

But Mr Newton also called on loyalists engaged in the protests to seek a political route to voice their grievances instead.

"All sections of the unionist community should involve themselves in politics in Northern Ireland," he said.

Dublin protest

Meanwhile, the organisers of a planned loyalist demonstration at Leinster House at the weekend have yet to make contact with gardai about the event.

The protest is intended to highlight the controversy over the decision to limit the number of days the union flag is flown over city hall.

Gardai are making contingency plans for this Saturday's protest in Dublin, despite the lack of contact from organiser Willie Frazer.

The demonstrators will be accompanied by uniformed gardai on Saturday as they line up outside Leinster House and their buses, meant to be confined to three, will be monitored as they travel into the city centre.

A number of public order units will also be on stand-by to prevent clashes between the loyalists and local objectors, who previously plundered building sites for weapons to use against loyalist marchers.

Gardai also hope to build up intelligence throughout the week on the likely reaction to the demonstrators.

Although the organisers said their group would be very limited in number, there are fears that if the current violence in Belfast escalates further, loyalist paramilitary groups could attempt to infiltrate the protest and exploit it for their own ends.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said loyalists are welcome to take their protests against the removal of the union flag to Leinster House -- provided they do so peacefully.

An Oireachtas spokesman confirmed that the flag will not be flying on the day of the protest.

The Tricolour only flies over Leinster House when the Dail or Seanad is in official session.

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