Several weeks ago the elected members of Belfast City Council voted by a majority to end the year-round flying of the British national flag from the rooftop of the city hall. Councillors agreed instead to reduce the number of days the flag was flown to certain “designated days”; essentially those periods during the year held to be of special significance to the British Unionist minority in the city (for instance the “official” birthday of Britain’s monarch). However the reaction from the more extreme elements of the British separatist population across the North of Ireland was one of outrage and fury at this “compromise” with the political representatives of Belfast’s Irish Nationalist majority.
In answer to the calls by Unionist political and community leaders to defy the decision street demonstrations and rioting have been combined with attacks on perceived symbols of Irishness in the north-east of the country (Roman Catholic churches, non-state schools
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