Republican protesters disrupt the Olympic torch relay
THE Olympic torch relay through Northern Ireland was disrupted last night following a dissident republican protest.
One man was arrested after minor scuffles with police as the flame was about to pass the peace bridge linking the divided communities in Derry.
Thousands of spectators, many of them visitors to the city, had lined the route of the relay and clapped and cheered as the torch was carried along the Foyle dual carriageway and through the city centre before it was carried across the Peace Bridge and into St Columb's Park.
Spectators, many of them women and children, rushed from the scene of the scuffles as police reinforcements arrived to quell the disturbances.
Nobody was injured but the torch relay was re-routed by about 100 yards.
A group of about 100 dissident republican supporters had gathered behind the Guildhall before the relay team carrying the Olympic torch had arrived.
The protesters, many of them young children carrying placards alleging police brutality during weekend searches of houses in the Creggan area of the city, then clashed with police officers.
Former SDLP leader Mark Durkan said: "We support anyone's right to protest but that has been abused here today in Derry.
"People are just absolutely disgusted that there will be negative headlines for the city coming out of a great afternoon."
Mr Durkan said there had been an agreement not to disrupt the relay.
The protest was not aimed at the torch ceremony, but shoving with stewards broke out and police intervened to push back a crowd of around 100, half of them children.
A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokesman said several dissident republicans were involved.
One man was arrested.
The trouble in Derry followed a day filled with cheer as the torch shone a light on Northern Ireland's dramatic north coast on the second day of its journey around the region.