Robinson says rioters are trying to 'destroy the political process'
More loyalist protests took place last night as First Minister Peter Robinson accused those behind the protests of working to an agenda to destroy the political process.
There was further trouble in the Newtownards Road area of east Belfast last night. The former Sinn Féin lord mayor of Belfast Niall Ó Donnghaile said homes in the nationalist Short Strand area were attacked by loyalists with petrol bombs and other missiles. A special-needs children had to be escorted to safety from meeting in the local Catholic Church.
“This was a blatant, well-planned and organised sectarian attack on this community,” said Mr Ó Donnghaile.
Rush-hour traffic was disrupted in parts of the city yesterday as protests were staged on busy streets such as the Crumlin Road, Belfast city centre in the Sandy Row/Donegall Road area, the Upper Malone Road, the Woodstock Link in east Belfast and in Newtownabbey, north Belfast.Two buses were hijacked in east Belfast. A bus driver taken to hospital.
Tourism Ireland reported that a big conference of teachers scheduled to be held in Belfast in November was cancelled due to the trouble.
At Stormont, the Northern Assembly First Minister Mr Robinson said: “For many, the issue of the flying of the union flag at Belfast City Council is now a cynical cover for the real political agenda which is to destroy the political process.”
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he did not believe that those involved in the disorder spoke for the vast majority of unionists.
“These are people who are associated with the British National Party type politics. These are people who are clearly, to some degree, sectarian bigots,” he said.
The PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott said those behind the rioting were leading young people “by the nose towards prison”.