LOYALISTS DEFY UNIONIST LEADERS AND MARCH AT BELFAST CITY HALL

THEY made an impassioned plea for all protests to stop in a bid to find a political solution.

Loyalist hold up banner claiming ‘republican appeasement’ over Union flag

But the call from DUP leader Peter Robinson and UUP leader Mike Nesbitt fell on deaf ears on Saturday.

Loyalists went on the march at Belfast City Hall to show their anger at the council decision to only fly the Union flag on only 17 designated days.

They claim the decision to remove the flag from flying all year round is an appeasement to republicans.

The PSNI mounted a large police presence across parts of Belfast to keep a lid on any potential violence and help keep Belfast open for business on one of the busiest Saturday’s of the year.

In east Belfast, around ten police land rovers mounted a heavy presence at the Short Strand interface with the Albertbridge Road.

Loyalists claimed that some feeder parades into the city were stopped from reaching the rallying point at the City Hall.

In Glasgow, hundreds of people turned out to show their solidarity with loyalists in Northern Ireland.

They held up banners saying they would stand shoulder to shoulder with ‘Ulster loyalists’.

Loyalists protest in Glasgow over Union flag row

During today’s parade in Belfast, shops and the continental market stayed open and there were no repeat of speeches from last Saturday.

Part of the march broke off and headed back up the Shankill Road watched closely by a PSNI helicopter high above the city.

By 2pm the protest passed off peacefully.

PUP leader Billy Hutchinson made an impassioned plea to those among the 1,000 strong crowd to keep it peaceful.

PUP leader Billy Hutchinson told a pocket of protestors to remain peaceful.

“We need to stand in solidarity with these people,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“They came here for a peaceful protest and what I’m trying to do is make people understand that they need to stay legal in all of this.

“I’m not going to make promises to anybody but what I’m saying is we’re going to try and put the flag back.

“It may have been a democratic decision by people in City Hall but I think the process was flawed.”

His words, unlike those of the DUP and UUP, were headed by the crowd still furious over the removal of the Union flag.

 

 

 

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