Petrol bombs fly again as Northern Irish flag protests continue

BELFAST Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:55pm GMT

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BELFAST (Reuters) - Northern Irish police were pelted by petrol bombs for the first time in almost two weeks on Friday after more protests at the removal of the British flag from Belfast City Hall.

Masked youths clashed with police on the streets of east Belfast on an almost nightly basis for six weeks after local councillors voted to end a century-old tradition of flying the flag, enraging some pro-British loyalists.

The worst violence had calmed in recent days and most demonstrations on Friday passed off without major incident. But later in the evening, some people hurled stones, bottles and petrol bombs at police. There were no arrests or injuries, a police spokesman said.

The violence has been the most sustained in the British-ruled province since a 1998 peace deal ended 30 years of conflict between Catholic Irish nationalists seeking union with Ireland and Protestant loyalists determined to remain part of the United Kingdom.

(Writing by Padraic Halpin in Dublin; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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