Violence flares in Northern Ireland over flag decision

Updated 04 December 2012
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Violence flares in Northern Ireland over flag decision

BELFAST, United Kingdom: Fifteen police officers were hurt in violence which flared in Northern Ireland overnight when 1,000 protesters rioted after councillors voted not to fly the British flag all year round, police said Tuesday.
Two security workers and a press photographer were also injured Monday night as officers were pelted with bricks, bottles and fireworks and demonstrators tried to force their way into City Hall in Belfast.
Trouble broke out minutes after Belfast city councillors voted to remove the Union Flag from City Hall, meaning it will be taken down for the first time since the building opened in 1906.
Nationalists opposed to Northern Ireland being part of the United Kingdom wanted the flag taken down permanently, but in a compromise it will now be flown only on 17 designated days.
At one point, Loyalists with scarves tied around their heads to conceal their identity tried to kick down the back door of City Hall to gain entry.
Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson said the violence was unacceptable.
“There is no excuse or justification for attacks on police officers, council staff, and property,” he said.
“Such behavior is not representative of those who campaigned to maintain the Union Flag flying over Belfast City Hall.”
Unionist parties who support Northern Ireland retaining its links to Britain share power with Nationalists in the provincial assembly.
The assembly was set up under a 1998 peace deal that largely ended three decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland in which more than 3,600 people died.
Mike Nesbitt, the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, said that while he condemned the violence, the flag vote showed that Unionists feel they are being marginalized.
“Firstly, we are clear that no one should have been attacked or injured last night, no property should have been damaged, and no illegality should be tolerated. Attacking police officers is wrong, full-stop,” he told the BBC.
“But it is also wrong to continue to make the Unionist people of Belfast feel that they are to be treated as a minority whose heritage and values are to be suppressed.”


Bolton, Mattis meet at Pentagon

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (L) talks with National Security Adviser John Bolton. (Reuters)
Updated 29 min 53 sec ago
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Bolton, Mattis meet at Pentagon

  • When Mattis first met Bolton at the Pentagon last month, the defense secretary jokingly said: “I’ve heard that you’re absolutely the devil incarnate and I wanted to meet you.”
  • The two men decided to have “regular” meetings

WASHINGTON: US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met with John Bolton, the new national security adviser to President Donald Trump, at the Pentagon on Wednesday, a spokeswoman said.
The breakfast meeting came amid US media reports that Mattis risks being isolated by Trump’s more bellicose coterie of advisers, including Bolton, an Iraq War-era hawk who has advocated for military action in both Iran and North Korea.
Bolton “was here this morning,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.
The two men decided to have “regular” meetings, she added, noting that CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Trump’s pick to run the State Department, could join them.
When Mattis first met Bolton at the Pentagon last month, the defense secretary jokingly said: “I’ve heard that you’re absolutely the devil incarnate and I wanted to meet you.”
Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general, is one of a dwindling pool of original Trump picks not to have drawn negative attention from his mercurial boss.
According to multiple reports, after a suspected chemical attack in Syria this month, he successfully pushed Trump to only taking limited action in response, while Bolton wanted a larger operation.
Mattis used to meet regularly with Rex Tillerson, who was fired last month from his position as secretary of state.
Pompeo is seen as being more hawkish than Mattis, further raising the possibility of the Pentagon chief’s influence waning.