Police in riot gear clear Tempelmore of debris placed there
by loyalist youths in Belfast. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Pro-British protesters pelted police with petrol bombs
and fireworks in a sixth successive night of rioting in
Northern Ireland's capital of Belfast.
A crowd of about 100, mostly teenagers, attacked officers on
Tuesday in the east of the city but police did not have to
resort to water cannon and plastic baton rounds to stop the
violence as was the case on Monday.
Riots began last month after a vote by mostly nationalist
pro-Irish councillors to end the century-old tradition of
flying the British flag from Belfast City Hall every day
unleashed the most sustained period of violence in the city
Businesses have been disrupted and Belfast's reputation
tarnished by some of the worst scenes seen since a 1998 peace
deal ended 30 years of conflict in the province.
"We are already aware of investors who have lost interest in
Northern Ireland because of these disruptions," a
Confederation of British Industry statement said on Tuesday.
The riots had had a detrimental impact on local business and
tourism, it said.
Tuesday's trouble began when hooded rioters, their faces
covered by scarves, hurled missiles at police riot jeeps
following a protest under heavy police guard.
Some sported British flags and one group carried a banner
saying "No Surrender", a mantra of loyalists during the
province's darkest period, commonly known as the "Troubles".
Most of the protests have involved between 200 and 300
rioters and police say they contained the attacks, arresting
106 people, 81 of whom have been charged with an array of
However, Northern Ireland's police chief Matt Baggott warned
on Monday that prolonged unrest would eat into officers'
ability to deal with what he called the very severe threat
posed by mostly Catholic anti-British dissidents.
Militant Irish nationalists, responsible for the killings of
three police officers and two soldiers since an increase in
tensions from 2009, have so far not reacted violently to the
flag protests, limiting any threat to the 15-year peace.
Baggott also urged politicians to act to halt the uproar, and
unionist politicians - who share power in the province with
their former nationalist foes - have said they will meet on
Thursday to seek to address their communities' issues.
Most people on the streets of Belfast were unwilling to see
the British-controlled province return to the bloody times
that cost some 3,600 lives over three decades.
"I'm technically a loyalist because I'm Protestant and value
my British values and, to be honest, I don't think the flag
should be removed. But, violence and throwing petrol bombs at
the police doesn't do anything constructive," said east
Belfast resident Marianne McDonald.
"There will always be that element here who think violence is
the way to get your point across but it's not like that any
more," she said.
The Union flag, which will now fly over Belfast City Hall on
17 specified days a year, will be raised for the first time
since the rioting began on Wednesday to mark the birthday of
Prince William's wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.