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Belfast riots over Union flag row wounds 14 police officers, city hall attacked

Written on:December 4, 2023
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The sectarian riots in Belfast over the Union flag row spilled into the Belfast city hall at one moment

The Union flag row in Belfast, over the flying of the flag at Belfast city hall, has wounded 14 police officers, a security guard and a press photographer.

The injuries were sustained during a loyalist riot on Monday night, which followed the Belfast city council voting by 29-21 to terminate the practice of flying the Union flag 365 days a year from the dome of the Belfast city hall, the legendary 19th century landmark.

Nearly 1000 loyalists participated in the Belfast sectarian riots on Monday, which have been characterised as catastrophic for Belfast’s image globally.

East Belfast’s Catholic territory of Short Strand was assaulted by the loyalist rioters during the Monday Belfast riots. As the loyalists were returning from their Belfast city hall protest, they targeted Short Strand, after which they hijacked a bus on the Albertbridge Road. Subsequently, loyalist-police clashes took place.

SDLP and Sinn Fein councillors acknowledged a compromise motion from the centrist Alliance Party that the Union flag be fluttered only on special occasions such as the Queen’s birthday.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Peter Robinson, has abhorred the Belfast riots, which, at one stage, seeped into the courtyard of the Belfast city hall, endangering the bureaucrats and the councillors. Peter Robinson has expressed that the Belfast rioters’ assaults on police officers and properties were indefensible.

Striking a politically reconciliatory tone, the First Minister asserted that the Belfast rioters’ violence wasn’t representative of those Northern Irish councillors, who had campaigned peacefully to continue the practice of flying the Union flag. Peter Robinson urged the wider loyalist community to preserve tranquility and expressed sympathy with the wounded police officers.

Reportedly, an important segment of the loyalist demonstrators on Monday, which is hostile to any alteration in the Union flag-flying policy, is an extremist group constituted by ex-British Army members from Northern Ireland.

Loyalist paramilitary leaders have been contending that the Protestant loyalists avoid responding to attacks by dissident Catholic republicans.

Sinn Fein policing board member, Gerry Kelly, has voiced that the Police Service of Northern Ireland had difficult queries to answer about their security operations preceding the Belfast riots.

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