Violence erupts after flag protests turn ugly

The morning after: A burnt out car lies outside the gates of Mossley Mill. Pic by Alan Lewis, Photopress
The morning after: A burnt out car lies outside the gates of Mossley Mill. Pic by Alan Lewis, Photopress

AROUND 200 people attending the Mayor’s Christmas dinner and 400 others who were enjoying a festive theatre show were trapped in Mossley Mill on Friday night (December 7) after a loyalist mob laid siege to the borough’s civic headquarters.

Cars were burnt out at the gates of the council offices, others parked in the car park were damaged and DUP MLA Paul Girvan was stoned when he went out to try to reason with the rioters. Slogans about the removal of the Union flag from Belfast City Hall and a swastika were daubed on the wall of the shops at nearby Crescent Corner.

Police made no arrests, but have said that enquiries into who was responsible for the public disorder are ongoing.

The performance of the ‘Music Box’ at the Theatre at The Mill finished as scheduled and the audience remained in the theatre until the police advised that it was safe to leave. However, the Christmas dinner hosted by Mayor Victor Robinson had to be halted earlier than planned after the trouble erupted on Carnmoney Road North.

The cross-community dinner, organised to recognise individuals who have had overcome adversity in their life and whose personal achievements have inspired others, was stopped early and guests and staff had to be escorted from the Mill grounds by police.

Speaking about the evening’s events, alderman Robinson commented: “Fortunately, our security arrangements for the site were effective and the majority of unrest remained outside the main gates.

“I would like to thank the PSNI and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service for attending the scene and making the roadway safe for everyone to evacuate from Mossley Mill.”

Meanwhile, police made a number of arrests at O’Neill Road near Rathcoole on Friday night as troubled flared following a flag protest at Cloughfern Corner.

The road was blocked with burning bins and police came under attack from youths throwing stones, bottles and petrol bombs.

Loyalist paramilitary groups have denied orchestrating the public disorder.

Full story and more coverage in this week’s Times...