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Sunday 17 December 2017

Policeman hurt in wave of attacks by loyalist rioters

Michael McHugh

POLICE were attacked by missile-throwing loyalists during another night of violence in the North.

Youths attempted to hijack vehicles as a protest by hundreds of people turned ugly in south Belfast.

Countless city roads were blocked, causing disruption to shoppers and commuters.

At least one police officer was injured as the force was attacked by people throwing objects – including paint bombs and fireworks.

Some retailers said their businesses had been devastated by a campaign which has continued since the start of the month, following the cut in the number of days the Union flag can be flown from Belfast City Hall.

There were protests in several towns last night including Derry, Portadown, and Lisburn.

At Carrickfergus, protesters entered the town hall and disrupted a meeting. No one was injured.

Police said a 19-year-old man was arrested after a firework was thrown at police in Gaol Square in Armagh city.

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have appealed for the protests to stop.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers met leaders of Northern Ireland political parties in a bid to resolve the flags controversy.

She said she understood the strength of feeling but the disruption caused by these protests was damaging Northern Ireland's economy, particularly for retailers heavily dependent on shoppers in the run-up to Christmas.

"None of us want to see the clock wound back to an era of sectarian tension when there is such important work to be done to rebalance Northern Ireland's economy and boost jobs and growth."

Irish Independent

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