Northern Ireland police used water cannons to ward off protesters in Belfast on Saturday as violent demonstrations over new laws concerning flying the British flag stretched into a third straight day. The Northern Ireland Police Service said it was investigating reports of multiple shots fired at police lines. A 38-year-old man has been arrested on charges of attempted murder.
TVNZ reports that pro-British loyalists started rioting a month ago in the most violent string of crimes in the city for years after a vote by mostly nationalist pro-Irish councilors to end the tradition of flying the British flag from Belfast City Hall.
More than 1,000 demonstrators marched on city hall earlier Saturday afternoon in spite of a heavy police presence, the passion of which seems to be failing to make a positive difference. While the rally passed largely without incident, police were then assaulted by a mob of more than 100 people hurling bricks and fireworks. Two men were arrested, says Yahoo News.
Protesters have been out in sometimes-violence force since a December 3 decision by Belfast City Council to stop flying the British flag year-round. You probably wouldn’t get that kind of patriotism in the US, where we have Republicans fighting tooth and nail over budget problems. Many Protestants are urging the council to reverse its decision about the flag, and dozens of police have been injured in the protests.
Saturday’s violent spurt followed a tense Friday night when nine police officers were injured and 18 rioters arrested for violent crimes. Police said that more than 30 petrol bombs were thrown at officers, along with various destructive projectiles as they responded to fights in Belfast’s Protestant sections.
The controversy has also seen death threats made against politicians.
Meanwhile in America, politicians fight each other.