Three teens arrested after Union flag protests in Belfast City

Protesters attempt to burn a tricolor during Belfast protests

Three teens were arrested in Belfast in conjunction with protests that have stemmed from the government’s recent decision to limit the flying of the Union flag over city hall from 365 days annually to just 17.

BBC News reports that while protests over the weekend remained generally peaceful, pockets of trouble broke out around Newtownards Road in east Belfast and some minor disturbances on O'Neill Road in Newtownabbey.

A protest that was attended by around 2,000 people at Belfast City Hall on Saturday went over generally peacefully, although there was a burning of the Irish tricolor flag.

Following the City Hall protest, trouble broke out around east Belfast where bricks and other missiles were thrown at police officers and a car was set on fire. There was also an attempt to hijack a bus in the Castlereagh Street area.

Of the people arrested, three were teenagers - two aged 13, and one aged 17. Police have said that the trouble that did break out was likely organized by paramilitaries.

Protests and demonstrations were held elsewhere as well in the wake of the Belfast City Council’s decision. A march of about 20 people carrying Union flags was held in Derry, and a demonstration was staged at halftime during a football match in Fermanagh.

The political unrest coincided with a visit from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who condemned the violence. Clinton, whose husband played an integral role in the Northern Ireland peace process during his term as US president, said, “People have strong feelings, but you must not use violence as a means of expressing those strong feelings.”

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