Loyalist leaders back end to riots
Published 17/01/2013 | 07:45
Loyalist paramilitary leaders have called for an end to the sectarian violence that has rocked Northern Ireland's peace process.
A statement was issued after British and Irish government officials held crunch talks with the First and Deputy First Ministers on the Union flag crisis.
Leaflets appealing for the rioting to stop have been endorsed by 41 different organisations including paramilitaries, church leaders and community groups.
They said: "The people of east Belfast plead that those involved in the current rioting stop now. We would add that those who come into the area to riot and cause disturbance are not welcome.
"The rioting does absolutely nothing to promote any cause but rather is damaging this community and causing further suffering."
Violence has erupted across parts of Northern Ireland since councillors in Belfast voted to limit the number of days the Union flag is flown over City Hall.
The outlawed loyalist gang - the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)- has been accused of orchestrating much of the disorder during which more than 100 police officers have been injured and 116 arrests have been made.
Earlier, the First and Deputy First Ministers held talks with the Northern Ireland Secretary of State and the Irish foreign minister to discuss the flags issue.
Theresa Villiers, who visited east Belfast on Monday, reiterated appeals for the road blocks and pickets to end.
"The violence is intolerable and these protests have to come off the streets. They have to be replaced by dialogue," she said.