Twenty-nine policemen were injured Saturday in Belfast during clashes between members of the Protestant and Catholic communities, which erupted after a new event around the British flag.
The police were covered by bricks and fireworks while trying to mediate between the two groups. Police responded with water cannons and rubber bullets. A spokesman for the police confirmed that some policemen had to be hospitalized for treatment of their injuries.
These incidents occurred when demonstrators returned from yet another rally in Belfast to protest against the decision on 3 December, the council of the capital of Northern Ireland no longer float permanently the British flag.
Loyalists and Protestants in favor of maintaining the union of Northern Ireland with the United Kingdom, see the decision as an attack against their identity and unacceptable concessions made to Republicans Catholic supporters of unification with the Republic Irish neighbor.
For more than a month of sometimes violent demonstrations are organized in Northern Ireland, a semi-autonomous British province, calling for the permanent return of the Union Jack on the City Hall in Belfast. More than 100 police officers were injured and hundreds of people have been arrested since early December, according to the latest report from the police.
The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson, Deputy Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness, the British Minister Theresa Villiers Northern Ireland and Irish Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore should discuss the issue next week. "This violence is organized and those who are responsible are criminals who want to create chaos," said Gilmore. "It has nothing to do with real problems around the flag and identity," he said.
Northern Ireland has experienced thirty years of sectarian violence that have killed and 3,500 opposed Protestant loyalist and republican Catholics. Despite the peace agreement of 1998, which established a power-sharing between Catholics and Protestants, sporadic incidents still occur in the province.
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