Northern Irish Police Hurt as Loyalist Protest After Flag Vote

Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Northern Ireland Police said five officers were hurt, with two requiring hospital treatment, as a crowd of pro-U.K. loyalists gathered at Belfast’s city hall to protest at a vote to remove the British flag from the building.

Crowds dispersed 10 p.m. and police are at the scene, in an area east of downtown Belfast, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said in an e-mailed statement today. Two city hall security workers were also injured, police said.

Loyalists, some waving union flags, gathered at the city hall as lawmakers inside voted on a plan to stop flying the flag every day and instead hoist it on 15 designated days every year. The vote, opposed by unionist councillors, passed after members of the cross-community Alliance Party voted with nationalist lawmakers to carry the motion.

The flag has been flown at the city hall every day since 1906, according to the British Broadcasting Corp.

A press photographer was injured and windows at the city hall were smashed, according to images shown by Irish broadcaster RTE.

To contact the reporter on this story: Colm Heatley in Belfast at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Lytle at