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Dublin: 18°C Tuesday 5 July 2022

Police officer knocked unconscious after stopping flag protesters

The demonstration itself passed off peacefully, but violence broke out after PSNI officers stopped a group on the street afterwards.

A demonstrator dressed as Santa walks with participants in today's march.
A demonstrator dressed as Santa walks with participants in today's march.
Image: Peter Morrison/AP/Press Association Images

Updated at 6pm

A PSNI OFFICER was taken to hospital for treatment this evening after being knocked unconscious following a stand-off with loyalist demonstrators.

An earlier parade — organised to mark one year since Belfast City Council’s vote restricting the number of days the union flag could be flown at City Hall — passed off peacefully, with around 1,000 people attending.

The confrontation happened in its aftermath, as police blocked demonstrators at the junction of Tennant Street and Crumlin Road.  A 35-year-old man was arrested after the incident involving the police officer, the PSNI confirmed this evening.

Turnout for today’s march was far less than had been expected by the organisers. The group ‘Loyalist Peaceful Protesters’ had applied to the Parades Commission for a march of up to 10,000 people, including some 40 bands.

There was a breach of the Parades Commission ruling on the event by those participating — the march didn’t move off from its commencement point until around 1pm, but a large electronic notice had instructed the marchers that “moving off after 12pm is a breach of determination”.

The PSNI said the incident would be investigated “using the extensive evidence gathering operation which was in place” and that offenders should “expect to face the consequences of their actions in due course”.

Belfast City Council voted on 3 December last to limit the number of days the union flag was flown at City Hall, leading to several months of protests and demonstrations — some of which turned violent.

Addressing the protests in his keynote speech at the DUP conference last weekend, party leader and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson said most unionists had been disgusted by the violence that followed last December’s decision, and called the unrest “morally wrong” and “counter-productive”.

Originally posted at 2.18pm.

Read: ‘I don’t think it’s a good idea’: Adams against proposal to end Troubles prosecutions

Also: Taoiseach: Proposal to end Troubles prosecutions ‘would be difficult for families’

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