PSNI braced for another night of violence in Belfast
David Ralston (43), originally from Glasgow but who has lived in Belfast for 27 years, said: “I feel very, very strongly about my British identity. Obviously my own native country of Scotland is struggling but, for me, Ulster is an important part of Ulster.
“I have seen sell out after sell out to Sinn Fein — they are acts of betrayal. We must stand together on this issue. That flag is the flag of Britain and it was fought and died for, it represents freedom and democracy. If the Union flag can fly from Government buildings in Edinburgh, despite all the Scottish nationalism there, why can’t it fly over Belfast City Hall?”
Arnold Sproule (65), from east Belfast, said he came out to show his support.
“I would describe myself as quite a liberal type of person but I think there has just been one concession after another to Sinn Fein,” he said.
“I voted for the DUP all my life but never again — not after they lost the flag.”
The violence — which has left 27 police officers injured — overshadowed a visit to Northern Ireland yesterday by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Mrs Clinton, who was a key figure in the peace process during the 1990s, appealed for calm.
Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt MLA also called on protesters to halt the violence.
“Anyone who attacks a police officer, anyone who riots, anyone who engages in illegal street protest, is disrespecting the values of the Union flag,” he said.
Much of the anger has been directed towards the non-sectarian Alliance Party, whose councillors in Belfast voted to limit the number of days the Union flag could be flown over the city hall from 365 to 17.
The home of Ards councillor Linda Cleland was attacked overnight, with several windows broken and her car windows were smashed.
Ms Cleland urged all those who have orchestrated the protests and attacks to call an end to the trouble before someone is killed.
A death threat was also made against the party’s only MP, Naomi Long, while a constituency office in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, was destroyed in an arson attack.
Belfast city councillor Laura McNamee was advised to leave her home, while two others living in Bangor had their homes vandalised.