Car ‘driven at protestors’ during incident

A CAR has been driven at loyalists in the centre of Ballyclare during an impromptu flag protest, it has been claimed.

Around 15 protestors took to the top of The Square close to the town’s Danske Bank branch at about 5pm on New Year’s Eve.

The group displayed a banner which read “democracy doesn’t work” and caused minor traffic disruption forcing a number of cars to perform a u-turn while another car appeared to drive the wrong way up the one-way system towards the protestors. The road was cleared around 5.40pm, however, protestors remained in the centre of the town on the pavement and police advised motorists to avoid The Square area altogether.

Witnesses said the disruption may have been short-lived but caused traffic “chaos”.

Police said they were investigating a report of damage caused to a car around the time of the protest.

Loyalist protestors have taken to the streets in the past weeks following a decision taken at the beginning of last month by Belfast City Council to restrict the number of days it flies the Union flag at City Hall. There have been a series of protests in the borough. Most have passed off without incident, however, sporadic rioting and a tense stand-off have also developed after the protests.

Around 600 people, including young children, were trapped in Mossley Mill when rioters blocked the main entrance of the council’s headquarters.

At the same time rioting broke out in Rathcoole. Petrol bombs were thrown at police and water canon was deployed on those causing trouble.

Since then most protestors have passed off without incident, however, at one flag protest in Monkstown tensions were heightened when a car broke through protestors.

A bin was dragged into the street and set on fire and for a period there was a tense stand off, however, tensions eased shortly after.

Unionist politicians have urged those taking part in the protests to bring them to an end ahead of talks in the new year.