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Loyalists hold St Patrick’s Day Union flag protest at Belfast City Hall

Published 17/03/2016

Loyalist flag protesters outside Belfast City Hall on Thursday 17th March 2016. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye
Loyalist flag protesters outside Belfast City Hall on Thursday 17th March 2016. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye
Loyalist flag protesters outside Belfast City Hall on Thursday 17th March 2016. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye
Loyalist flag protesters outside Belfast City Hall on Thursday 17th March 2016. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye
Loyalist flag protesters outside Belfast City Hall on Thursday 17th March 2016. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye

Loyalists have held a Union flag protest at Belfast City Hall on St Patrick’s Day.

Hours earlier thousands of people gathered for a St Patrick’s Day parade in the city centre.

Around six PSNI Land Rovers lined the middle of the road to separate the protesters and young people celebrating St Patrick's Day - many of whom were draped in Tricolour flags.

The loyalist protest stems from December 2012 when Belfast councillors voted to switch from permanent displays of the Union flag at City Hall to designated days.

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Jamie Bryson urges City Hall protesters to call it a day and engage in politics  

The decision - backed by Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance - led to two months of protests including street disorder and violent incidents. There were also attacks on the offices of Alliance Party councillors.

Alliance was blamed by loyalists since its representatives held the balance of power on the council, but the protests dwindled after the then DUP leader Peter Robinson and Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt, along with other unionist leaders, set up the Unionist Forum.

A weekly protest held outside the gates of City Hall every Saturday afternoon attracted significant support from east Belfast, where large marches, which disrupted trade, were organised. The protests now attract just a handful of supporters.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016
Thousands enjoy the open air concert at Custom House Square.
St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 Thousands enjoy the open air concert at Custom House Square. St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 Brian McFadden entertains the Thousands in the open air concert at Custom House Square. St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 Thousands enjoy the open air concert at Custom House Square. St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place.
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
The Belfast parade departed from city hall at noon and is making its way to Custom House Square for a free concert. Charlie Bradley (9), Courtney Dempsey (8), Nellie-Rose Bradley (4), Stephen Dempsey (9) and Ruairi Bradley (7).
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 17th March 2016 St Patrick's Day celebrations take place across Northern Ireland. Thousands of people are attending St Patrick's Day parades and festivities in towns and cities across Northern Ireland. The Belfast parade departed from city hall at noon and is making its way to Custom House Square for a free concert. Nuala and Brendan Loughran with Reilly.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 17th March 2016 St Patrick's Day celebrations take place across Northern Ireland. Thousands of people are attending St Patrick's Day parades and festivities in towns and cities across Northern Ireland. The Belfast parade departed from city hall at noon and is making its way to Custom House Square for a free concert. Cloughfin Pipe Band.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 17th March 2016 St Patrick's Day celebrations take place across Northern Ireland. Thousands of people are attending St Patrick's Day parades and festivities in towns and cities across Northern Ireland. The Belfast parade departed from city hall at noon and is making its way to Custom House Square for a free concert. Cloughfin Pipe Band.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 17th March 2016 St Patrick's Day celebrations take place across Northern Ireland. Thousands of people are attending St Patrick's Day parades and festivities in towns and cities across Northern Ireland. The Belfast parade departed from city hall at noon and is making its way to Custom House Square for a free concert. Cora (4) and Ruby (2) Harmon.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 17th March 2016 St Patrick's Day celebrations take place across Northern Ireland. Thousands of people are attending St Patrick's Day parades and festivities in towns and cities across Northern Ireland. The Belfast parade departed from city hall at noon and is making its way to Custom House Square for a free concert. Little Connloadh Mahoney (2).
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 17th March 2016 St Patrick's Day celebrations take place across Northern Ireland. Thousands of people are attending St Patrick's Day parades and festivities in towns and cities across Northern Ireland. The Belfast parade departed from city hall at noon and is making its way to Custom House Square for a free concert. Claire Kearns wishing everyone a very Happy St Patrick's Day.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 17th March 2016 St Patrick's Day celebrations take place across Northern Ireland. Thousands of people are attending St Patrick's Day parades and festivities in towns and cities across Northern Ireland. The Belfast parade departed from city hall at noon and is making its way to Custom House Square for a free concert. Emma (8) and Katie (9) McDonnell.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 17th March 2016 St Patrick's Day celebrations take place across Northern Ireland. Thousands of people are attending St Patrick's Day parades and festivities in towns and cities across Northern Ireland. The Belfast parade departed from city hall at noon and is making its way to Custom House Square for a free concert.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 17th March 2016 St Patrick's Day celebrations take place across Northern Ireland. Thousands of people are attending St Patrick's Day parades and festivities in towns and cities across Northern Ireland. The Belfast parade departed from city hall at noon and is making its way to Custom House Square for a free concert. Lord Mayor Arder Carson.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 17th March 2016 St Patrick's Day celebrations take place across Northern Ireland. Thousands of people are attending St Patrick's Day parades and festivities in towns and cities across Northern Ireland. The Belfast parade departed from city hall at noon and is making its way to Custom House Square for a free concert. Cloughfin Pipe Band.
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker press 17/03/2016 The Annual St Patricks day parade makes it's way through Belfast City centre on route to Custom house square. St Patricks day or "The feast of St Patrick" is held on the 17th of March which is thought to be the date St Patrick died. It is a celebration of christianity in Ireland. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 17/3/2016 St Patrick's day celebrations in Belfast city centre this afternoon. Thousands lined the route from Belfast City Hall to Custom House Square where an open air concert will take place. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

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