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Latest Loyalist riots threaten RC children

18 January 2013

CHILDREN with special needs and their parents, meeting in a Roman Catholic parish hall on Monday night, had to be rushed to safety amid further rioting by Loyalists in East Belfast, who are continuing to protest at restrictions on the flying of the Union flag at the City Hall ( News, 11 January).

Parishioners at St Matthew's were escorted from the hall in the Newtownards Road area when a gang hurled bricks, petrol bombs, and other missiles at the RC enclave of the Short Strand, which is surrounded by Loyalist-occupied estates.

In a separate incident, two buses were hijacked. The driver of one received hospital treatment for lacerations to his face, after a brick was thrown through his windscreen.

The former Sinn Fein mayor of Belfast, Niall Ó Donnghaile, described the incident as "a blatant, well-planned, and organised sectarian attack on this community". The First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Peter Robinson, said that, "for many, the issue of the flying of the Union flag at Belfast City Council is now a cynical cover for the real political agenda, which is to destroy the political process."

The PSNI Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, said that those orchestrating the riots were leading young people "by the nose towards prison".

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