MEP hits out at ‘flag’ unionists in EU parliament

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MEP Martina Anderson last night laid the blame for rioting across the North on unionist politicians, when she addressed the European Parliament.

Speaking in Strasbourg, Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said the situations since December 3, when Belfast City Council democratically voted to fly the British flag at City Hall only on 17 designated days, stemmed from the actions of certain political representatives.

“Unionist politicians stirred up tensions in the run-up to the Council vote when they distributed 40,000 leaflets in Alliance Party colours calling on people to protest the change in policy on flying the Union flag on Belfast City Hall.

“This resulted in almost daily protests over the past six weeks, many of them violent and most of them illegal.

“The loyalist paramilitary group the UVF and right wing British National Party have been actively involved, with police being attacked and injured, and attempts made to attack nationalist districts.”

She also hit out at the actions of unionists to create solutions to the broader issues they see as causing the problem.

“Rather than Unionist political leaders establishing a ‘Unionist Forum’, what is needed is an all-party, cross community response to the flag protests and the violence.

“The promise of the Good Friday Agreement for a new society in which all citizens are respected, and where justice and equality are the guiding principles, has to be advanced.

“It is clear that the overwhelming majority of people want the Irish Peace Process supported and progressed.

“That’s what everyone should be working towards,” she added.

Meanwhile, police arrested two people following a loyalist protest on the Limavady Road in Derry on Sunday evening.

A 31 year old man and a 14 year old boy were arrested.

They were later released on bail pending further enquiries.

During rioting throughout Northern Ireland almost 100 police officers have been injured.

To date there have been a total of 112 people arrested over the flags protests, with 85 charged, 8 reported to the PPS and 19 released on bail.