Belfast, in Northern Ireland, has experienced protests since December, when a decision to limit the number of days the Union flag would fly over city hall was made,
Nationalists and loyalists were on the streets of Belfast today, for further protests. Around 1,000 protesters gathered outside of Belfast City Hall. The protests were followed by violence and rioting. Early reports from the BBC said that sixteen police officers had been injured, but the number has increased to 29, according to SkyNews,
Police faced a barrage of missiles today including bricks, rocks and fireworks. Water cannons were used to quell the violent disorder and officers fired four plastic bullets.
Sectarian clashes followed a decision to route a loyalist protest march past a nationalist area, according to the Guardian. "My colleagues brought the situation under control with exceptional courage and professionalism. I know the vast majority of people will be grateful for their efforts," said he head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Matt Baggott. "Police will continue to engage with all those committed to finding a solution to these issues." Marchers and residents were fighting 'hand to hand' at one stage.
Officials are due to meet next week to discuss the ongoing crisis. Today Ireland's Tanaiste (deputy leader) Eamonn Gilmore.said, "This violence is being orchestrated and those behind it are known criminals, intent on creating chaos. "This has nothing to do with real issues around flags and identity in a shared society, which are the subject of intensive political discussions at present."
Around 100 police officers have been injured during the six-weeks that protests have been taking place. Four of the 29 officers injured today were taken to hospital and two remain in treatment, reports SkyNews.
Today is the 40th day of protests.