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New mayhem as loyalist flag riots spread

LOYALIST rioting last night spread beyond Belfast, with police coming under serious attack as flag protests yet again brought many parts of the North to a standstill.

Five baton rounds and water cannon were deployed by police as they were attacked with petrol bombs, fireworks and other missiles in Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey in Co Antrim.

The PSNI said 33 petrol bombs were thrown at police lines and at least four officers were injured.

However after almost a week of nightly violence in east Belfast the area was peaceful last night. Rioting erupted in the Rathcoole area of Newtownabbey after a double-decker bus was set alight.

Eyewitnesses said children as young as eight were involved in the violence against police.

A short time later serious disorder broke out in the West Street area of Carrickfergus.

Officers came under attack by a large crowd following a protest in the area. Police were forced to fire five baton rounds to try and control the disorder.

A car was also set alight at a protest site in the Sandy Row area of Belfast, close to the Days Inn hotel.

Scores of roads were blocked across many parts of the North yesterday evening as loyalist protesters took to the streets in what they called Operation Standstill.

It is thought that up to 100 protests were held in the North. Demonstrations were also held in Liverpool and Glasgow.

The Westlink in Belfast and Creighton's Road in Dunmurry were also closed due to security alerts. A pipe bomb was later discovered along the Westlink.







Cancer

In one part of Belfast a doctor was twice prevented by protesters from making a home visit to a seriously ill cancer patient.

Even when he identified himself as a GP on his way to visit a patient, he was refused passage.

He was eventually able to make his way to the patient's home after the protest had ended.

During another protest a pensioner got into an angry confrontation with demonstrators as he tried to get home to his terminally ill wife.

When they refused to let him make his way home, he shouted at them: "What would you do if your wife was dying? Get yourselves off home."

He was forced to turn around and as he did, the protesters started jeering and taunting him.

Another motorist said that when he came across a blocked road in Carrickfergus, protesters kicked his car and ordered him to turn around.

There is increasing anger that the PSNI has been unable to keep roads open during the loyalist flag protests, which have been ongoing for over a month.

In the majority of cases the roads have been blocked by a handful of protesters.

hnews@herald.ie