[QODLink]
Europe

Belfast police injured during rallies

At least 29 officers are injured as protesters clash in the Northern Ireland capital of Belfast over ties to Britain.
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2013 02:55
Police used water cannons, shields and occasional shots of plastic bullets to disperse protests [Reuters]

Twenty-nine Northern Ireland police officers have been injured while trying to quell sectarian clashes in Belfast, as the row over limits to the flying of the British flag shows no sign of abating.

Violence broke out on Saturday as the protesters passed Short Strand, the only Catholic enclave in east Belfast.

Masked, hooded Catholic youths tossed bottles, rocks and other makeshift weapons at the protesters. A running street battle ensued with heavily armoured police in the middle.

Amid chaotic scenes, police used water cannons, shields and occasional shots of plastic bullets to force the Protestants away from the Catholic district.

Protestant hardliners have mounted illegal protests and road blockades for the past six weeks in protest at Catholic council members' decision to fly the flag only 18 days annually, not year round.

The protesters - many waving British flags, chanting, or covering their faces with scarves to avoid recognition - came from three different areas to converge on City Hall, a pattern that has continued every Saturday for the past several weeks.

"We're going to keep protesting until we get our flag back up in its rightful place" said one demonstrator, holding a British flag over his shoulder, but who did not want to be named.

Billy Hutchinson, leader of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) says he condemns the clashes which have been happening sporadically across the city.

"There's no room for violence" said the politician on Saturday, outside Belfast City Hall. "The violence is drowning out the message. Those people that are involved in the violence, go away, because you're not welcome" he added.

263

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.