Protesters pelt Northen Irish police with petrol bombs for sixth night

BELFAST Tue Jan 8, 2013 6:02pm EST

1 of 5. Police dressed in riot gear clear Tempelmore of debris placed there by loyalist youths in Belfast January 8, 2013. Violent protests continue in Northern Ireland as loyalists renewed their anger against restrictions on flying the union flag from Belfast City Hall.


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BELFAST (Reuters) - Pro-British protesters pelted police with petrol bombs and fireworks in a sixth successive night of rioting in Northern Ireland's capital of Belfast.

A crowd of about 100, mostly teenagers, attacked officers on Tuesday in the east of the city but police did not have to resort to water cannon and plastic baton rounds to stop the violence as was the case on Monday.

Riots began last month after a vote by mostly nationalist pro-Irish councilors to end the century-old tradition of flying the British flag from Belfast City Hall every day unleashed the most sustained period of violence in the city for years.

Businesses have been disrupted and Belfast's reputation tarnished by some of the worst scenes seen since a 1998 peace deal ended 30 years of conflict in the province.

"We are already aware of investors who have lost interest in Northern Ireland because of these disruptions," a Confederation of British Industry statement said on Tuesday. The riots had had a detrimental impact on local business and tourism, it said.

Tuesday's trouble began when hooded rioters, their faces covered by scarves, hurled missiles at police riot jeeps following a protest under heavy police guard.

Some sported British flags and one group carried a banner saying "No Surrender", a mantra of loyalists during the province's darkest period, commonly known as the "Troubles".

Most of the protests have involved between 200 and 300 rioters and police say they contained the attacks, arresting 106 people, 81 of whom have been charged with an array of offences.

However, Northern Ireland's police chief Matt Baggott warned on Monday that prolonged unrest would eat into officers' ability to deal with what he called the very severe threat posed by mostly Catholic anti-British dissidents.

Militant Irish nationalists, responsible for the killings of three police officers and two soldiers since an increase in tensions from 2009, have so far not reacted violently to the flag protests, limiting any threat to the 15-year peace.

Baggott also urged politicians to act to halt the uproar, and unionist politicians - who share power in the province with their former nationalist foes - have said they will meet on Thursday to seek to address their communities' issues.

Most people on the streets of Belfast were unwilling to see the British-controlled province return to the bloody times that cost some 3,600 lives over three decades.

"I'm technically a loyalist because I'm Protestant and value my British values and, to be honest, I don't think the flag should be removed. But, violence and throwing petrol bombs at the police doesn't do anything constructive," said east Belfast resident Marianne McDonald.

"There will always be that element here who think violence is the way to get your point across but it's not like that any more," she said.

The Union flag, which will now fly over Belfast City Hall on 17 specified days a year, will be raised for the first time since the rioting began on Wednesday to mark the birthday of Prince William's wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.

(Writing by Padraic Halpin in Dublin; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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Comments (2)
MisterAmerica wrote:
Typical British thugs with no education and too much time on their hands. Probably drunk as well. Did you know that the British have the most alcohol problems in the entire world? Yeah, we all talk about the Irish and their drinking problems but that’s only because it’s the British that push that stereo type too hide the fact that they (the British) are inbred, mostly drunk all the time, and are on the top of the world list of people who have alcohol problems.

My solution to this problem of the Northern Irish (who are really British) who want to have the British flag flown at all times…. hmmm….. go to England! Leave Ireland you lousy bums! Some years ago you were throwing rocks at little Catholic girls walking to school to protest who knows what. That’s a great leap in mankind and humanity… throwing rocks and bottles at little girls. This is the pride of the Protestants and the British.

Yes. Go to England and leave the poor Irish alone. You stole the north of Ireland 90 years ago. Give it back. Go home. And go back to doing what you do best – getting drunk.

Jan 08, 2013 7:03pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Overcast451 wrote:
That’s ok – as long as guns are illegal, you have nothing to worry about! Right?

Jan 11, 2013 10:15am EST  --  Report as abuse
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