Northern Ireland braces for week of protests over Union flag

Northern Ireland braces for week of protests over Union flag
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Northern Ireland is quieter this Monday after another night of violent confrontation in areas of Belfast, the fourth in a row that has left at least 52 police officers injured.

Unlike on Saturday night, there were no further reports of gunfire directed against police. However there were plenty of petrol bombs, fireworks, bricks and other projectiles being thrown by loyalist protesters.

However the scale of the flare-up has led to special Sunday sittings of courts to process all those charged of public order and other offences. In all at least 70 arrests have been made, with 47 people being charged.

Further protests have been announced for all this week over the decision to stop flying the Union flag of the United Kingdom all year round on Belfast town hall.

Northern Ireland’s police chief says he will do “everything possible” to maintain law and order, but his riot squad already has its hands full preventing spillovers from the protests clashing with Catholic counter-demonstrators.

For the moment the Protestants’ ire is directed mainly against the authorities, but the potential for sectarian confrontation is ever-present.

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