Loyalists to bring flag protest south
GARDAI are to carry out an assessment on the threat of violence posed by a planned loyalist demonstration in Dublin over the Belfast union flag controversy.
Loyalist activist Willie Frazer has said the demonstration will take place outside Leinster House at noon on January 12.
His comments come as trouble continued in Belfast last night with petrol bombs being thrown and roads being blocked by protesters, with some areas becoming 'no-go' for motorists.
Mr Frazer, who is based in Markethill, Co Armagh, said he expects 150 people to take part and that the protest will be "in the spirit of respect" and peaceful.
The Ulster loyalists will ask "sarcastically" that the Tricolour is lowered.
"When we ask for the Tricolour to be taken down, it's a tongue-in-cheek gesture, it's to give Irish people a sense of how we feel," Mr Frazer said. "I would be very offended if I was living in Ireland and someone came and asked me to take the flag down."
The loyalists hope to arrange three busloads of protesters from Belfast, Co Armagh, and Co Derry/Tyrone to travel to Dublin for an hour-long protest outside Leinster House.
It follows violent protests in Belfast that erupted following a decision to limit the number of days the union flag could be flown over Belfast City Hall.
A garda spokesman said that "anyone has the right to peaceful protest" in Dublin but that gardai had to be notified first.
Mr Frazer was behind the 2006 'Love Ulster' parade in Dublin, which was cancelled after rioting broke out among republican protesters.
Following a Christmas lull, protests in the North have resumed and 10 police were injured in Belfast on Thursday.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton has condemned the violence, as has first minister Peter Robinson.
Last night a menacing atmosphere descended in east Belfast as hundreds of loyalist protesters took to the streets again.
While at least one petrol bomb, stones and fireworks were thrown at police, there was no repeat of the rioting which took place in the area the previous evening.
A large police presence oversaw the protest, during which residents in the Short Strand area gathered outside their homes. Two water cannons were deployed to the area after missiles were thrown at police lines.
A number of those protesting waved union flags and used scarves to cover their faces.
One loyalist told police: "What are yous doing here – we aren't the ones putting bombs under your cars."
Both protesters and police began to disperse at around 9.30pm. Other protests also took place throughout the city and in the North last night.