Northern Ireland

Belfast man in court on rioting charge

A man has been remanded in custody accused of attacking police with bricks after a loyalist flag protest in east Belfast.

Christopher Shires, 23, faces a charge of riotous assembly during an outbreak of street disorder on Thursday night.

Ten police officers were injured in disturbances after a protest against restrictions on flying the union flag at Belfast City Hall.

The violence was in the Albertbridge Road, Castlereagh Street area.

Belfast Magistrates' Court was told Shires, of Beechfield Street in the city, claims he only went to the scene for a peaceful protest.

His solicitor, Pat Kelly, said the accused had described the violence as "disgraceful behaviour".

Mr Kelly added that other people had hijacked the lawful demonstration Shires claimed to be part of.

But a detective constable opposed bail due to alleged likelihood that the accused would become involved in further public disorder.

"It's our understanding that more protests are in the pipeline," he said. "The defendant was observed by police throwing bricks at police vehicles and police officers.

"He was identified, pursued and arrested."

District Judge Fiona Bagnall refused bail due to police concerns, rejecting suggestions that Shires could be kept out of the area and placed under curfew.

She remanded the accused in custody to appear again by video link next month.