Northern Ireland

Reaction to loyalist violence over union flag issue

Image caption Some loyalist protests over a vote to restrict the flying of the Union flag on Belfast City Hall have resulted in violence

Northern Ireland politicians and public representatives have condemned those responsible for violence surrounding loyalist union flag protests.

Since Monday, 19 officers have been injured in trouble associated with protests.

Matt Baggott, Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland

"Their actions are shameful and they have put innocent people's lives at risk, particularly at this busy time at Christmas.

"The world is watching and it will make its judgment on the events of the next few days.

"That judgment will affect people's jobs, tourism, economic development and the hopes of our young people."

David Ford, leader of the Alliance Party

"We are clearly in a very horrific situation, one of my colleagues has had his constituency office utterly destroyed, another's office only avoided destruction because of the attention of a police patrol, but most serious of all a house with a young baby was attacked in circumstances which meant we could have been talking about serious injury or even a death.

"People need to recognise that if people are called onto the streets in a charged atmosphere, violence is almost inevitable."

Peter Robinson, first minister

"There is no excuse for violence and the riotous behaviour we have witnessed over recent days. Those who riot and engage in violent attacks do a disservice to the flag they claim to represent. Such activities must stop immediately and must be condemned without qualification by everyone in the community."

Martin McGuinness, deputy first minister

"There is no justification whatsoever for these type of actions.

"This is an attack on the democratic decision taken in Belfast City Hall by those who are democratically elected to represent the people of this city.

"Political unionism needs to accept that. They need to call for an end to these protests and for those involved to step back."

Mike Nesbitt, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party

"What has happened in terms of the intimidation and violence, I have made it very clear it is wrong on every front.

"It is wrong legally, it is wrong morally and for a unionist to engage in violence it goes against the whole ethos of what unionism is all about."

Billy Hutchinson, leader of the Progressive Unionist Party

"This was not done by loyalists on the street, this was done by unionists who have fears and have frustration around all of this.

"Any violence that's carried out at any protest will kill anything around the notion of the flag, because nobody can hear it."

Dr Roy Patton, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church

"These attacks are utterly abhorrent, and have no place at all in our society which is clearly still struggling to be at peace with itself."

Alban Maginness, SDLP MLA speaking to the Stormont justice committee

"It attacks democracy at large and the Assembly at large. He (Cllr Stewart Dickson) is one of our colleagues carrying out a function, the attack on that office was an attack on all of us around this table and I think we should send a very, very strong message."