‘FLAG PROTEST’, SCONTRI A SHORT STRAND TRA LEALISTI E NAZIONALISTI

Police attacked with ‘heavy masonry’ (UTV)

Police have been attacked with heavy masonry during rioting that has broken out in east Belfast on a fifth night of violence.

Police say missiles have been thrown between rival factions on the lower Newtownards Road.

It is understood the violence involved loyalist and nationalist crowds.

Police have used water cannon on the rioters and have dispersed a group that gathered in the Short Strand area. They say they are still dealing with public disorder on the lower Newtownards Road area.

Violence erupted as flag protestors returned from a peaceful demontration earlier at Belfast City Hall.

The protest coincided with the Council’s first full meeting since it passed a motion to reduce the number of days the Union Flag flies from the building.

Meanwhile disorder broke out in Dundonald where police have been attacked with petrol bombs.

Police have advised motorists to avoid the Upper Newtownards Road at Dundonald Village at Robb’s Road due to ongoing disorder in the area.

It is understood petrol bombs and other missiles have been thrown at officers.

Earlier there was a heavy police presence in city centre as up to 500 protestors gathered. They walked peacefully around the building to police lines and back to the front, and were singing before dispersing.

Donegall Square East, South and West were closed to traffic but have now reopened.

However police have advised of delays in the Bridge End, Middle Pass Street, Short Strand and Lower Newtownards Road areas on Monday night.

At a council meeting in December, a majority of councillors voted to reduce the number of days the Union flag flies at City Hall from 365 days a year to 17 designated days.

It was followed by weeks of protests and sporadic violence in which 62 police officers have been injured.

A total of 96 people arrested and 73 charged.

The demonstration follows four nights of trouble in east Belfast, which PSNI believe was orchestrated by senior members of the UVF.

The issue of flag was not listed on Monday night’s council agenda, however councillors discussed it.

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