Burning barricade in east Belfast on Thursday evening

Burning barricade in east Belfast on Thursday evening

TWO people are to face court on Friday following a fresh outbreak of rioting in east Belfast.

Fresh flames of hate licked the streets of the Albertbridge Road on Thursday night in the latest row over the Union flag.

A 16-year-old boy and a 23-year-old man were arrested and have been charged with rioting.

They are both due to appear in court on Friday morning.

Police chiefs have reported that “public disorder” broke out in east Belfast after loyalist protestors took to the streets.

A car was burned out at the junction of Castlereagh Street.

Missiles and bottles were hurled at police lines as trouble flared.

Ten police officers were injured during the trouble. One was taken to hospital but was later released.

The SDLP’s policing spokesperson, Conall McDevitt condemned the overnight trouble in east Belfast.

“Those who are seeking to bring violence onto our streets are defeating their own argument and the community must unite in condemnation of these acts,” said the south Belfast MLA.

SDLP policing spokesman Conall McDevitt

SDLP policing spokesman Conall McDevitt

“Added to this, over the past month there has been a significant increase in the aggressive and intimidatory flagging of mixed neighbourhoods across Belfast and elsewhere in the North.

“These actions are unjustified and undermine any cause, instead reinforcing people’s perception that this is about domination rather than respect for different identities.

“The SDLP has been calling for  years  for a regulated framework for flags flown from street furniture.

“Many flags flown are uncontentious but others are flown to mark out territory. Communities, particularly in mixed areas, are entitled to some protection from having this happen against their will.”

The PSNI said riot squad officers dealt with trouble around the Albertbridge Road, Castlereagh Street and Mountpottinger Street areas.

Burning debris is currently blocking Castlereagh Street and a Mexican stand-off is taking place between protestors and a heavy presence of riot clad police.

Loyalists claim they were attacked first by nationalist from the Short Strand before police moved in.

A source told Belfast Daily that “reinforcements” were sent to east Belfast from the Shankill Road on Thursday night to support the Union flag protestors.

“The protestors say they were caught in a pincer movement between nationalists and the police,” added the loyalist source.

It appears police resources were also initially thin on the ground at the time trouble flared.

A security source said: “We had three Tangis at the scene and there was no intelligence of any planned disorder.

“Officers tried to contain the situation until reinforcemens could survive.”

Around 100 protesters blocked the Albertbridge Road at the junction with Templemore Avenue on Thursday night.

The PSNI has advised motorists to avoid the affected areas of east Belfast and follow the diversions.

Earlier on Thursday evening, Malton Drive on the Upper Malone Road was closed for a time, with diversions in place at House of Sport roundabout and Finaghy Road South. The road has now re-opened.

On Wednesday night up to 300 loyalists blocked roads in Carrickfergus.

The demonstration ended peacefully after about an hour.

Last month, councillors in Belfast voted to limit the number of days the Union Flag is flown over City Hall.

On Thursday, a 27-year-old Newtownabbey faced a court charged with public disorder offences.

James Mason, from Queen’s Drive, was charged with rioting on Denmark Street on September 2 last year when police in riot gear came under attack from a crowd throwing various missiles.

Constable Miney told Belfast Magistrates Court that he believed he could connect Mason to the charge.

He did not object to him being released on continuing bail on condition that he does not go within 500 metres of any parade, observe a curfew from 10pm to 6am and report to police three times a week.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall, who relisted the case on 31 January, also barred Mason from wearing clothing which could be used to disguise his features, including hoodies, scarves and balaclavas.



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