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Thursday 14 November 2019

1,000 attend Belfast peace campaign rally

Lesley-Anne McKeown

Peace campaigners in Belfast have staged a second rally in as many days to demonstrate their opposition to the recent unrest.

Up to 1,000 people took part in the cross-community 'Peace Gathering' in the city centre.

The hour-long event at the gates of the city hall concluded with a two-minute 'no silence' where participants whistled, shouted, clapped their hands and played musical instruments.

Organiser Paul Currie from Newtownabbey, Co Antrim said: "The peaceful silent majority need to be heard too."

Violence has erupted across Northern Ireland after Belfast City councillors voted to limit the number of days the Union flag is flown.

Loyalists are opposed to any restrictions and have blocked roads and rioted over the issue.

Mr Currie said the gathering would "show our neighbours and the world once and for all that we are not about two communities at war, but that Northern Ireland has moved on".

Participants of all ages waved banners and played drums but were told not to bring any flags.

Belfast city councillors from the SDLP and the Alliance Party were also at the event.

Maura Duran (55) from Belfast said: "The image of Belfast that has gone out recently has been very negative. We just wanted to do something positive."

Almost 30 PSNI officers have been injured during disturbances over the past fortnight. More than 40 people have been arrested for public order offences.

Alliance Party MP Naomi Long received a death threat from loyalists over her party's support for only flying the Union flag on designated days.

Alliance councillors and others have also been advised by police not to return to their homes.

More loyalist protests over flags are believed to be planned for this week.

Irish Independent

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