Police seal inner courtyard of Belfast City Hall

Police seal inner courtyard of Belfast City Hall following a breach by protestors last month

BELFAST CITY Council holds its first full meeting on Monday evening since it voted to only fly the Union flag on designated days.

Union flag protestors are due to hold a rally at the City Hall at 6pm to coincide with the full council meeting.

Police are expected to be out in force to prevent any repeat of violent public disorder following last month’s meeting.

Councillors voted last month by 29-21 to only fly the Union flag over Belfast City Hall on 17 designated days of the year.

It was a compromise motion put forward by the Alliance Party after Sinn Fein wanted the flag removed from the building.

It sparked trouble at the City Hall with masked protestors storming the back gate of the building.

A security guard was assaulted and police had to move into the building to remove the protestors.

A car belonging to DUP councillor Guy Spence had windows smashed in the courtyard of the car park.

Serious rioting erupted on the streets outside the City Hall.

In the days after, some Union flag protests which started out peacefully ended in violence.

Alliance Party office in Carrick torched by loyalist mob

Alliance Party office in Carrick torched by loyalist mob

In Carrickfergus, the office of Alliance Party MLA Stewart Dickson was ransacked and torched during serious street disorder.

Protestors then started to picket the offices of the Alliance Party in east Belfast.

The Alliance MP for east Belfast Naomi Long had to leave her home after police warned of a death threat against her.

The most serious violence has erupted on the streets of east Belfast.

In one incident, a female police officer cheated death when her car was attacked by 15 masked men with iron bars before a petrol bomb was thrown into the vehicle.

She was guarding Naomi Long’s office when the attack took place. Detectives are treating the incident as attempted murder.

After a lull in protests over Christmas, rallies were restarted but since the New Year violence has hit the headlines again.

Since last Thursday, police have dealt with four nights of trouble in east Belfast.

In the most serious incident on Saturday, shots were fired at police lines on the lower Newtownards Road. A man was arrested and is due to appear at Belfast Magistrates Court on Monday morning over the incident.

Since the trouble started, over 70 people have been arrested and more than 50 have faced court on public disorder charges.

On Monday, police said 61 PSNI officers have been injured since the trouble started.

Officers have made 96 arrests with a total of 73 people being charged, some as young as 11.

Some 52 police officers have been injured as they came under attack from bottles, fireworks, golf balls, masonry and petrol bombs.

A rally is also due to be held in Dublin on Saturday, January 12 organised by Willie Frazer’s Ulster Peoples Forum

Irish police will be on high alert after the Continuity IRA issued a statement on Sunday warning protestors to stay out of the capital.

List of forthcoming Union flag protests

List of forthcoming Union flag protests

A further series of protests are scheduled for this acrossing Northern Ireland, England and Scotland.


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