NI party leaders deplore attacks over flag issueThursday 20 December 2012 23.23
The leaders of Northern Ireland's five main parties at Stormont this evening issued a statement deploring the recent attacks on the PSNI and the threats made against elected representatives.
The representatives of the DUP, Sinn Féin, the Ulster Unionist party, the SDLP and the Alliance Party had spent several hours discussing the recent spate of street violence.
The rioting, petrol bomb attacks on police officers and death threats to politicians came after a controversial decision at Belfast City Council.
Sinn Féin, SDLP and Alliance party Councillors voted to change arrangements about the flying of the Union flag over Belfast City Hall.
It no longer takes place on an all the year round basis but instead for a maximum of seventeen designated days annually.
Originally Sinn Féin and the SDLP wanted to stop the practice completely but ended up supporting the Alliance party designated days compromise.
The decision touched a nerve in loyalist communities and political arguments continue about whether the different parties are fanning fear and suspicion.
The motion agreed by the party leaders after hours of talks deplores violence.
No common ground was found on specific issues like what to do about flags and other contentious issues like parades.
Social media traffic suggests loyalists may take to the streets again tomorrow evening.
In the meantime nationalist concerns on two issues received attention today.
The PSNI confirmed they are pressing ahead with an investigation into the Bloody Sunday killings in Derry.
The Police Ombudsman will hold a fresh investigation into the Loughinisland murders, when Loyalists shot dead six Catholic customers in a bar in 1994.