Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Air Algerie investigation continues

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Dozens of youths trampled to death on Conakry beach

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola death toll tops 700

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

UNRWA official breaks down over Gaza deaths

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults - Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds' (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults - Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Renault's women drivers ad deemed sexist

Read more

FOCUS

Constitution prohibits Aung San Suu Kyi to run for president

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

War and Markets, with Steen Jakobsen, Chief Economist at Saxo Bank

Read more

  • Kerry, Ban announce 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

    Read more

  • Interactive: France’s new plan to counter jihadism in Africa

    Read more

  • French Jews speak of growing fear in Paris amid Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • Argentinian markets plummet following default

    Read more

  • Video: Inside Hamas ‘terror’ tunnels in Gaza

    Read more

  • France remembers murdered socialist hero Jean Jaurès

    Read more

  • Sierra Leone declares state of emergency over spread of Ebola

    Read more

  • Investigators reach MH17 site amid 24-hour ceasefire

    Read more

  • Air France ground workers to strike on August 2

    Read more

  • Scores feared dead in India landslide

    Read more

  • Russia ordered to pay further €1.9 billion to Yukos shareholders

    Read more

  • Iraq's Christians: Nowhere to Run?

    Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    Read more

  • US House votes to sue Obama for over-reaching his powers

    Read more

Europe

Loyalist militants instigating Belfast riots, police say

© AFP

Video by Clovis CASALI

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-01-07

Police in Northern Ireland said on Monday that pro-British loyalists were “clearly” responsible for ongoing and violent riots in Belfast, which have seen 70 people arrested. The unrest was initially sparked by a dispute over the British flag.

Pro-British militant groups are instigating riots that have rocked the Northern Irish capital Belfast in the past month, a police officers’ representative said on Sunday as officers came under attack again.

The violence stems from protests over the removal of the British flag over Belfast City Hall. It has been among the province’s worst since a 1998 peace accord ended 30 years of conflict in which Catholic nationalists seeking union with Ireland fought British forces and mainly Protestant loyalists.

Fireworks, bottles and bricks were flung at officers for a fourth successive night on Sunday although a police spokeswoman said the trouble was not on the scale of the previous night, when police came under attack with petrol bombs and gunfire.

By Sunday, 70 people had been arrested, including a 38-year-old man detained on Saturday on suspicion of attempted murder over the shooting.

Police had said that members of pro-British militant groups helped to orchestrate and had taken part in the first wave of violence in early December. The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) said the recent attacks showed this was now clearly the case.

“What it quite clearly demonstrates is the fact that paramilitaries have hijacked this flags protest issue and they have now turned their guns on the police,” federation chairman Terry Spence told BBC radio.

“It is very clear that there are leading members of the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) who are exploiting this and are organising and orchestrating this violence against police officers who are out there trying to uphold the law and prevent anarchy on our streets.”

Both the UVF and Northern Ireland’s other main loyalist militant group, the Ulster Freedom Fighters, ceased hostilities in 2007 and decommissioned their stocks of weapons following the signing of the peace deal.

At least 3,600 people were killed in the 30 years of violence before the 1998 peace deal.

In scenes that recalled that earlier strife, pro-British loyalists began rioting in early December after a vote by mostly nationalist pro-Irish councillors to end the century-old tradition of flying Britain’s Union flag from the city hall.

‘No stomach for this’

Analysts said that, although the violence was worrying, the small numbers of protesters indicated they might be unable to develop any strength.

“Clearly the violence is a step up in terms of what’s happened more recently but they’re simply not getting people out on the street,” said Peter Shirlow, a professor at Queen’s University who has spoken with protesters in recent days.

“Protestants are annoyed about the flag but they’re even more annoyed about the violence. There’s no stomach for this, that mass mobilisation is just not there anymore.”

The police federation’s Spence said, however, that it was the most challenging time for police in a decade. Church leaders and community workers held talks behind the scenes on Sunday to try to quell the violence.

Militant Irish nationalists, responsible for the killings of three police officers and two soldiers since an increase in tensions from 2009, have also not reacted violently to the flag protests, limiting any threat to the 15 years of peace.

The British-controlled province’s first minister, Peter Robinson, said on Friday that rioters were playing into the hands of nationalist groups who would seek to exploit every opportunity “to further their terror aims”.

The moderate nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) party said on Sunday that shots had been fired using a ball-bearing gun at the house of one its councillors in Belfast, shattering windows.

(REUTERS)

Date created : 2013-01-07

  • NORTHERN IRELAND

    Loyalist rally in Belfast turns into riot

    Read more

  • NORTHERN IRELAND

    Clinton visits Belfast amid rising sectarian tensions

    Read more

  • UK

    Belfast Unionists march peacefully amid heavy security

    Read more

COMMENT(S)