Belfast City Hall: more than 1,000 join peace vigil

Teresa Craig reports for BBC Newsline.

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Up to 1,000 people have taken part in a peace vigil outside Belfast City Hall in response to the violence of the past two weeks.

It was the second peace gathering in two days.

On Saturday, several hundred people linked arms to encircle Belfast City Hall for a five-minute prayer vigil.

On Sunday, a bigger crowd clapped, cheered, blew horns and banged drums for five minutes.

They said they were making "a big noise" to call for an end to violence.

For the last two weeks, loyalists have held protests across Northern Ireland after Belfast City council voted not to fly the union flag every day.

Some of the protests have turned violent. Almost 30 police officers have been injured in the rioting.

The organisers of Sunday's rally said it was about showing the world that Northern Ireland has moved on from the Troubles.

Protests

So far, 40 people have been arrested in connection with disorder surrounding the decision to restrict the flying of the union flag at Belfast City Hall.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said 28 of them have been charged with a range of offences, including rioting, disorderly behaviour, resisting arrest and assault on police.

Nearly 30 officers have been injured during outbreaks of violence across Northern Ireland.

Speaking after Sunday's rally ended, PSNI Superintendent John McCaughan commended everyone in both weekend rallies.

" I was greatly heartened by the dignified and responsible way in which these events were conducted and marshalled and I would like to praise all of those involved, especially the organisers and stewards whose contribution was greatly appreciated," he said.

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