Derry flag protest passes off peacefully

Unionist in the Waterside, stage a 'white line' protest at the Rossdowney traffic lights over the 'Union flag' issue in Belfast.  INLS 1251-526MT.
Unionist in the Waterside, stage a 'white line' protest at the Rossdowney traffic lights over the 'Union flag' issue in Belfast. INLS 1251-526MT.

The latest loyalist flag protests in Derry have passed off without major incident.

Protests were held at Glendermott Road in the Waterside and Newbuildings on Monday evening.

Local DUP councillor Gary Middleton, who attended the Newbuildings protest, writing on Twitter said: “Newbuildings protest over and passed off peacefully. Policing issues still to be addressed but the main thing no one injured.”

One eye-witness who was travelling through Newbuildings during the protest at around 7pm yesterday said: “There was a group of protesters with Union flags in the middle of the road blocking traffic but police cleared the road for cars to pass through. We were worried as we had young children in the car but thankfully there was no trouble.”

Across the North 15 people were arrested during another night of sporadic loyalist violence.

At least one police officer was injured while cross-community Alliance Party councillors were threatened when a small group disrupted a local council meeting near Belfast.

At one stage a crowd of 200 people confronted police in Belfast and bricks and other missiles were fired at flashpoints across the city.

There was also disorder in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, and Portadown in Co Armagh.

About 80 protests were held across the North against Belfast City Council’s decision to reduce the number of days the Union flag flies from City Hall, police said.

The demonstrations left many Belfast retailers complaining of lost business, with main traffic routes blocked and the city centre relatively quiet days before Christmas.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Dave Jones said: “While most of the protests were peaceful, the violence witnessed in some areas is totally unacceptable.

“This is now the third week of protests and I am appealing to everyone involved to take a step back from this. It cannot and should not continue.”

A meeting of Carrickfergus Council was disrupted but there were no injuries as around five protesters entered the building and threatened people inside, police said.

Politicians have called for the protests to end amid warnings of colossal damage to the local economy.