Flags protest leader Willie Frazer arrested in east Belfast
US vice president Joe Biden tells Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness of his concern over Twelfth of July violence
Willie Frazer, who was involved in leading the loyalist flags protests earlier this year, was arrested by the PSNI yesterday in east Belfast. Photograph: Lesley-Anne McKeown/PA Wire
As the PSNI maintained a heavy presence in flashpoint areas of the North last night, Willie Frazer, who was prominent in the loyalist flags dispute earlier this year, was arrested while a second protest leader, Amie Bryson, was barred from attending a Stormont debate on the recent disorder.
Since the trouble erupted on the evening of the Twelfth of July after Orangemen were barred from parading past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast, more than 70 police officers have been injured.
On Monday night, police were attacked with blast, pipe and petrol bombs, masonry, brick and bottles in north and east Belfast, Newtownabbey on the outskirts of north Belfast and in Portadown in Co Armagh.
Since Friday, 71 officers have been injured while there have been 60 arrests. In east Belfast on Monday, at least six loyalist blast bombs were thrown at police while in Ardoyne in north Belfast a suspected republican dissident pipe bomb was fired at police.
Willie Frazer, who was involved in leading the loyalist flags protests earlier this year, was arrested by the PSNI yesterday in east Belfast. He is currently on bail facing a number of charges relating to the protests. His bail conditions include not being within two miles of protests, demonstrations or processions.
His associate, Jamie Bryson, who was also involved in spearheading the protests, was yesterday barred by a Belfast court from attending the Northern Assembly debate on the Parades Commission and the violence over the Twelfth of July period. He also is on bail on charges relating to the flags dispute. He is banned from being within a mile of any protest or demonstration.
On Monday the US vice- president Mr Biden contacted First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness by telephone to say he was deeply concerned about parade-related violence and attacks on police.
Calls for calm
The vice-president told Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness he supported calls for calm and respect for the rule of law, the White House said in a statement.
Mr Biden also spoke to the new chair of the all-party group, former US special envoy to Northern Ireland Richard Haass. The group will address sensitive issues such as parades, protests, flags, symbols and emblems.
“The vice-president and the US government, along with the British and Irish governments, will stay in close touch with Dr Haass as he assists the political parties of Northern Ireland in the crucial work of healing the divisions of the past and building a truly shared future,” Mr Biden’s office said.
Tackling sensitive issues was “essential to creating a lasting peace and assuring the road to prosperity for all in Northern Ireland”, the White House said. “It will require political courage, creativity and compromise on the part of all Northern Ireland’s political parties.”