Belfast flags trouble: Plastic bullets fired at protesters

The BBC's Chris Page says it is a "seriously challenging night" for police, as footage shows violence and a hijacked lorry on the streets

Related Stories

Police have fired plastic bullets during a fifth consecutive night of riots during flag protests in Belfast.

The PSNI said weapons, including hatchets and sledge hammers, were used to attack police officers and their vehicles on Newtownards Road.

The disorder began close to the nationalist Short Strand area as loyalists returned from a protest at Belfast City Hall.

Eight arrests were made, bringing the total since the protests began to 104.

Three officers were also injured in the latest violence.

Street demonstrations have been held since councillors voted on 3 December to limit the days when the union flag flies over Belfast City Hall.

On Monday, 400 people attended what police described as a "largely peaceful" protest outside City Hall between 18:00 and 19:00 GMT.

Road barricade

Trouble broke out as about 250 of the protesters passed the Short Strand on their return to east Belfast.

They were attacked by a crowd of up to 70 nationalists who had gathered at the interface.

The nationalists threw a number of missiles, including bottles, at the loyalist protesters as they passed.

Police worked to disperse the crowd at Short Strand, and when they tried to move the flag protesters up the Lower Newtownards Road, officers were attacked with petrol bombs, bricks, stones and bottles.

Locations of recent violence in Belfast Areas which have been recently hit by violence in the Belfast City Hall flag row

The PSNI said five plastic bullets were fired and water cannon were deployed due to the "level of violence" that officers were subjected to.

Loyalist protesters set up a barricade in the middle of the road and set it alight.

Police received reports of two attempted hijackings of a car and a lorry in the area.

Order was restored at about 22:00 GMT. Two men and two women were arrested for riot and public order offences.

Petrol bombs, fireworks and other missiles were also thrown at police during rioting on Robbs Road in Dundonald on Monday evening.

A car was set on fire in Bute Park.

Orchestrated violence

Sixty-two PSNI officers have been injured since the protests began.

The meeting at Belfast City Hall on Monday was the first time the council has met since the flag vote was taken on 3 December.

The first of the designated flag days will be Wednesday 9 January, to mark the birthday of the Duchess of Cambridge.

A large security operation was put in place around City Hall ahead of the meeting.

Despite loyalist protests outside the building, the new flag policy was not overturned.

BBC Ireland correspondent Mark Simpson said it was now clear there was no prospect of the the council changing its mind on the issue - but the protesters said their campaign would continue.

Earlier on Monday, PSNI Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, said individual senior loyalist paramilitaries had been involved in orchestrating violence during union flag protests in east Belfast.

Mr Baggott said if protests continued in the long-term, day-to-day policing would be affected, including his officers' ability to deal with the threat from dissident republicans, he added.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Northern Ireland stories


BBC News NI Live

    14:28: Robinson: DUP could hold "balance of power"

    DUP leader Peter Robinson says that his party's MPs could "hold the balance of power" at Westminster if there is a hung parliament after May's general election.

    Peter Robinson

    Mr Robinson told a business breakfast in east Belfast: "Unlike other parties we are not ideologically tied to any one of the major parties at Westminster but can do business with either the Conservatives or Labour."

    14:18: Johnson considering Irish open appearance:

    BBC Sport NI presenter Stephen Watson tweets:

    Stephen Walker

    American Dustin Johnson took time out of the game for six months to confront "personal challenges".

    14:12: Tyrone roadworks:

    Trafficwatch NI tweets:

    Tyrone roadworks
    14:05: Wind farm policy change welcomed: News Letter

    The News Letter reports that campaigners against wind turbines have welcomed the recommendation for Northern Ireland to revamp its whole approach to wind farms.

    Wind turbine

    The Department of the Environment told the News Letter that it was reviewing its policy and would consider issues such as separation distances.

    13:55: Free books 'under threat':

    A literacy charity says that it may have to stop free book programmes in Northern Ireland after having its funding cut by the Department of Education.

    Booktrust packs

    Booktrust says it gave out 50,000 free packs of books for babies and pre-school children last year, thanks to a £250,000 grant. It is now looking for alternative funding.

    13:42: Mooney helmet aims to prevents injury: BBC Sport

    Ireland's John Mooney says the self-designed helmet he is wearing at the World Cup can prevent batsmen from suffering a serious injury.

    John Mooney

    Australia batsman Phillip Hughes died after being struck on the back of the neck by a short delivery at the Sydney Cricket Ground in November

    13:32: Cave to captain Ulster:

    BBC Sport NI presenter Stephen Watson tweets:

    Darren Cave captain
    13:19: Union 'in talks' over strike protocols:

    The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) says that the union Unison is in talks over protocols to protect emergency services during a proposed strike next week.


    NIAS says it's aware of a "statement prepared by Unison to correct inaccuracies" in a newspaper article.

    13:04: Bearded beats: BBC Talkback

    Looks like William's got a new gig - he's been recruited as the newest recruit of Northern Ireland band Runabay.


    Well he's got the bearded look for it. The group will be performing in the BBC Talkback studio before 13:30.

    12:45: Union respond to ambulance strike story:

    The union Unison says it has made proposals for emergency cover during proposed ambulance staff strike action next Friday.

    Emergency crew

    Unison says the ambulance service must identify external ambulance workers to be deployed on the day and inform the union of any gaps that may exist.

    12:32: Monthly bin collection trial to end:

    A trial that cut the number of household black bin collections from once a fortnight to once a month is to end on 31 March.

    Black bins

    Shadow councillors for the new Armagh Banbridge Craigavon super council have been told that though reaction to the trial was mostly positive, it will come to an end at the start of April.

    12:21: DUP councillor disciplinary reaction:

    It's been reported that DUP councillor, Jenny Palmer, who told a Stormont committee she was "bullied" by a party advisor is to be brought before a party disciplinary committee.

    Jenny Palmer tweet 6 March 2015

    As councillor Palmer tweeted: this morning

    12:08: Same again for Armagh: BBC Sport NI

    Kieran McGeeney has kept faith with the team that beat Limerick for the top-of-the-table Division Three game against Fermanagh tomorrow.

    Kieran McGeeney
    11:58: Councillor 'summoned to disciplinary':

    Jenny Palmer, a DUP councillor who said she was "bullied" by a party adviser, has been summoned to a disciplinary hearing according to reports in the Belfast Telegraph.

    Jenny Palmer
    11:55: A Grey area for world book day: BBC Talkback

    Watch BBC Talkback presenter William Crawley tell you what's coming on BBC Talkback today. Would you dress up your 11-year-old as Christian Grey from 50 Shades?

    BBC Talkback 6 March 2015

    Liam Scholes was excluded from his school's World Book Day celebrations for dressing as a character from Fifty Shades of Grey, according to his mother.

    11:50: Derry woman Lisa Orsi dies

    A 22-year-old woman from Londonderry has died in in Singapore General Hospital after collapsing while on holiday last month.

    Lisa Orsi

    Lisa Orsi had been in a coma after she collapsed following a trip to a volcano. Nine of her organs will be donated.

    11:44: Teachers union votes not to strike:

    NASUWT, the largest teachers' union in Northern Ireland, has decided not to escalate its current industrial action to strike action on 13 March following a meeting last night.

    No strike action

    NASUWT remains in continuous industrial action, short of strike action, over its dispute with the education minister over pay, pensions, workload and job losses.

    11:36: Ruane criticises police recruitment:

    Policing board member Caitríona Ruane MLA has called on the chief constable to take action to increase the number of women police officers after he said that only 20% of women who apply to the force pass the fitness test.

    Catriona Ruane

    She said: "Not only is that insulting to women, it could also put off potential recruits, particularly young women."

    11:26: Hurler could make football debut: BBC Sport NI

    Christopher McGuinness won an All-Ireland hurling title three weeks ago and he could make his Antrim football debut against London at Cargin.

    Christopher McGuinness celebrates the All-Ireland success with O'Donovan Rossa

    McGuinness captained O'Donovan Rossa to intermediate club success but he has made the switch to football and is on the bench for the Division Four game.

    11:11: One of three murder charges dropped: Gordon Adair BBC News NI

    Dromore man Leslie Ross is to stand trial for the murders of two women; Michelle Bickerstaff and Margaret Weise.

    He will not, however, stand trial over the death of a third woman, Lily McKee.

    10:56: Tobacco display ban:

    The Department of Health is reminding people that there is one month to go until all retailers, including shops, bars and clubs are banned from displaying tobacco products.

    Tobacco displays

    The new law comes into force on 6 April. Tobacco displays in large shops and supermarkets were banned in October 2012.

    10:43: McCoy's top 10: BBC Sport NI

    It's nearly the end of a glorious career for AP McCoy. The 19-time champion jockey retires at the end of this season and, in looking back, he has revealed his top 10 favourite horses.

    AP McCoy

    You can read the rundown or listen back to last night's BBC 5 live programme where he explains his choices.

    10:30: From film to farm: Nicola Weir BBC NI News

    Here's me with the real Boogaloo and Graham, stars of the Oscar-nominated short film. I met them at Fort Hill Farm, Tandragee, that supplies animals to various movies and TV shows filmed in Northern Ireland.

    Nicola Weir

    I spoke to Kenny Gracey, who owns the farm, for the Stephen Nolan Show.

    10:18: Unionist 'should agree' pacts:

    A former Ulster Unionist MP says the DUP should step aside in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and allow the UUP a free run in the general election to try and oust Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew.

    Martin Smith

    Rev Martin Smyth told BBC's The View that DUP and UUP should co-operate in order to maximise the unionist vote.

    10:07: McIlroy down the field: BBC Sport NI

    Rory McIlroy's poor form continued with a one-over-par 73 in the first round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, leaving him 11 shots off the lead.

    Rory McIlroy

    But McIlroy, who started on the back nine, did recover from being four over at halfway, fighting back with three birdies and an eagle.

    09:57: Changeable weather: Angie Phillips BBC News NI Weather Presenter

    Temperatures and weather will see-saw over the weekend. It'll be wet and windy again Monday then drier and brighter on Tuesday.

    Friday weather
    09:42: Civil servants register interest in redundancy scheme John Campbell BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor
    civil service redundancy
    09:31: Derry "mad as hell": Derry Journal

    Veteran rights campaigner Eamonn McCann says Londonderry remains "mad as hell" over the decision 50 years ago not to create a major university presence in the city, the Derry Journal reports.

    09:19: Sprucefield collision moved: BBC NI Travel

    Collision on the M1 at Sprucefield has been moved to hard shoulder, therefore traffic heading towards Belfast should ease soon on M1 and A1.

    09:02: Man arrested after M1 crash

    A 29 year old man has been arrested after a collision on the M1 at Sprucefield this morning which is still causing long tailbacks.

    traffic tailback

    It follows the theft of a car at Banbridge at 7.40am. The man was arrested on suspicion of burglary and dangerous driving.

    08:58: Extra smoke breaks? Good Morning Ulster

    Should smokers get special rights and extra breaks at work? That's the question posed by Good Morning Ulster reporter Rick Faragher in this morning's programme.


    Charities have appealed for employers to help staff who smoke to quit.

    08:44: Man 'trapped in machinery':

    Harbour police confirm that the man who was seriously injured yesterday at Hayes Fuels in Belfast, was trapped in machinery.

    Man trapped
    08:34: Tyrone unchanged: BBC Sport NI

    Tyrone boss Mickey Harte has named an unchanged side for Saturday's Division One match away to Dublin.

    Mattie Donnelly

    Harte has picked a half-forward line made up entirely of recognised defenders for the trip to Croke Park, including Mattie Donnelly.

    08:21: Waterside repair underway Northern Ireland Water

    A number of homes are off supply at Tirbracken Road in Londonderry due to a burst main. A repair is underway and it's hoped to have supply restored soon.

    08:12: M1 crash causing tailbacks

    The situation at the M1 collision at Sprucefield.


    Traffic appears to be passing in the outside lane looking at the Traffic Watch NI cameras.

    08:02: M1 blocked at Sprucefield BBC NI Travel

    Collision on M1 at Sprucefield. Two lanes blocked heading towards Belfast

    07:49: Carrick train cancelled: Translink
    07:41: No Evans response to spitting charge: BBC Sport NI

    Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans has yet to respond to an FA charge but has denied deliberately spitting at Papiss Cisse.

    Jonny Evans

    Cisse has accepted a similar charges and released a statement apologising for his actions.

    07:29: Weekend weather: Angie Phillips BBC News NI Weather Presenter

    I have your latest online video forecast for today & the weekend

    07:15: Shot men stable:

    Two men in their 30s are in a stable condition after being shot in the legs in Poleglass, on the outskirts of west Belfast.


    It happened in the Glenkeen area at about 20:45 GMT on Thursday.

    07:02: Hurt man 'critical':

    The Belfast Health Trust says that the man hurt in a workplace incident at Hayes Fuels in Belfast is still in a critical condition.

    Hayes Fuels

    The man suffered serious injuries at the premises in Belfast Harbour.

    07:00: Good morning Ciaran McCauley BBC News NI

    Hope it's a good Friday for you all - we'll be bringing you all the news, sport, weather and travel up until 19:00.



Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show


  • A cyborg cockroachClick Watch

    The cyborg cockroach – why has a computer been attached to this insect’s nervous system?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.