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Pics: Protests in Belfast as council votes to restrict flying of Union flag

The city council has voted to restrict the flying of the Union flag to 15 days during the year. It has previously flown all year round.

Loyalist protestors carrying Union flags block the back of the City Hall in Belfast
Loyalist protestors carrying Union flags block the back of the City Hall in Belfast
Image: Paul Faith/PA Wire/Press Association Images

ANGRY PROTESTS HAVE taken place outside Belfast city hall after the local council voted to restrict the flying of the Union flag outside the building.

The flag will now be flown on 15 designated days during the year instead of all year round – as has been the case for the last 107 years - after the nationalist majority on the council pushed to have the flag removed completely.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has said that a number of police officers have been injured in the unrest including two female officers who have been taken to hospital.

Police continue to deal with ongoing unrest in the area tonight.

BBC News reports that after a compromise proposed by the Alliance party, councillors voted 29 to 21 in favour of displaying the flag on certain days of the year as is policy at Stormont where the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive meets.

A security guard has been injured and cars have been damaged as some of the protesters reportedly attempted to force open the doors of city hall where the council meeting took place.

The Guardian reports that around 1,000 Ulster loyalist demonstrators blocked traffic while riot police with dogs were called to try and quell the unrest.

Traffic cones and crush barriers were thrown at police lines, the paper adds.

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RTÉ News reports that a photographer was injured in the clashes while hundreds of police are stationed outside city hall tonight.

Deric Henderson, the Ireland editor for Press Assocation, says Peter Morrison, an Associated Press photographer, is being treated for a “serious head injury”:

While Sinn Féin and the SDLP argued for the removal of the flag to create a more neutral environment in the city, unionist councillors argued against it until the compromise was reached.

Pictures: Paul Faith/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Read: Petrol bomb thrown at two properties in west Belfast

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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