A decision by Belfast council to fly the Union Flag on only designated days has led to violence after Loyalists reacted with fury.
Five officers were injured along with security staff and at least one member of the press after a 1000 strong mob tried to storm Belfast City Hall immediately after the decision to end the year-round flying of the flag was announced.
Many waving Union Flags, the mob attacked cars and police throwing golf balls, bottles and crash barriers. There was an attempt to hijack a bus and St Matthew’s Catholic Church in east Belfast was also attacked.
Council staff and councillors had remained locked in their offices for safety.
SDLP councillor, Tim Attwood said: “This was an appalling spectacle, resulting in significant damage to property and, most alarmingly, injury to a number of those seeking to keep city hall secure, and our thoughts are with those who were hurt.”
The violence, which was said to be “orchestrated” has been described as a disaster for the city.
Belfast City Hall opened in 1906 and the Union flag has flown from a flagpole in the centre of the building every day since. The new decision will see it fly on only 15 designated days, as currently happens at the Northern Irish Assembly at Stormont.