Call for calm after North riots
He said the decision supported by Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the Alliance Party to restrict the flying of the Union flag from Belfast City Hall to designated days like royal birthdays was a big mistake. “It was a bad decision but the only way of addressing the bad decision is through the democratic process.”
The Tánaiste also called for calm. “This violence is being orchestrated and those behind it are known criminals, intent on creating chaos," Mr Gilmore said yesterday. “This has nothing to do with real issues around flags and identity in a shared society, which are the subject of intensive political discussions at present.”
Ms Villiers urged restraint. “We can’t afford to have these continuing protests damage our economy and destroy potential jobs for Northern Ireland’s young people,” she said.
About 1,000 people attended a peace rally at Belfast City Hall this afternoon. A lot of young people and families joined the demonstration but they pointedly stood on the pavement rather than blocking the road. There were five minutes of noise - horns, shouting and whistling - to symbolise the silent majority speaking out and a huge round of applause ended the gathering.
Almost 100 officers have been injured and over 100 arrests made during weeks of sporadic trouble, the PSNI has said.
Today a 32-year-old woman was arrested by charged by the PSNI with disorderly behaviour and obstructing a constable in connection with yesterday's public disorder in east Belfast. She is due to appear before Belfast Magistrates Court tomorrow.
Trouble broke yesterday afternoon on the Albertbridge Road near the nationalist Short Strand and police separated the opposing factions. As the loyalists approached the Short Strand. there was violence across the interface with missiles being thrown by rival factions, which resulted in a number of properties being damaged in the Short Strand.
Police used water cannons and fired six baton rounds as they forced the two sides apart. Four officers were taken to hospital, two have been discharged.
“This was a difficult operation dealing with a large number of people determined to cause disorder and violence. My colleagues brought the situation under control with exceptional courage and professionalism," said Mr Baggott. “I know the vast majority of people will be grateful for their efforts. Police will continue to engage with all those committed to finding a solution to these issues.”
Demonstrators were returning from a 1,000-strong protest outside Belfast City Hall against the council’s decision to restrict the flying of the Union flag to designated days like royal holidays. According to police, they were made aware that the preferred route home would bypass part of the Short Strand. Instead they gathered at a bridge barred by officers then broke away and ran towards Short Strand by different roads.