Northern Ireland

Union flag protests: 30 demonstrations in Belfast

A protest is taking place at Sandy Row
Image caption A protest is taking place at Sandy Row

More than 30 loyalist protests have taken place in Belfast and in several Northern Ireland towns over the flying of the union flag.

A number of roads were blocked and bus services were suspended for a time in the city on Friday evening.

Officers in riot gear used dogs to remove demonstrators from the Lower Newtownards Road in east Belfast.

The majority of protests were relatively low key, and passed off without incident.

Among the roads closed earlier on Friday were the Knock dual carriageway, the Donegall Road at Broadway and the M2 off-slip at Fortwilliam.

Templemore Avenue and the Albertbridge Road as well as the Ormeau Road were also affected.

Earlier, Translink said most of its buses were not leaving the city centre, the only exception being the service to the Falls Road.

Elsewhere, Abbey Street in Bangor was blocked and in Carrickfergus the A2 Shore Road was impassable at the castle.

A number of roads in Ballyclare were also closed.

The protesters are angry that the flag will not be flown every day at Belfast City Hall, a change the council voted through just over two weeks ago.

Businesses in Belfast have reported a drop in trade in the normally busy pre-Christmas period.

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