05/02/2013

75% Believe Flag Protests Should Stop

Over 75% of people believe the union flag protests at Belfast City Hall should stop, according to the BBC.

BBC Spotlight surveyed the public in an opinion poll on the continuing protests over the limiting of the flying of the union flag at City Hall.

Belfast City Councillors voted on 3 December to restrict the flying of the flag to designated days. It had previously flown all year round.

Many unionists have argued that the decision is an erosion of their cultural identity and have been engaging in regular protests across Northern Ireland.

The Spotlight poll found nearly half of unionists believe they should continue.

The full results of the survey are to be broadcast on BBC1.
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The BBC says the poll showed nearly half of all people believed the flag protesters had the right to take to the streets immediately after the vote. But this support seems to have slipped by late January, possibly as a result of outbreaks of violence and hundreds of arrests and attacks on police officers.

Only a fifth of those interviewed said protests should continue, while 77% of people thought they should stop.

The polls show a change of heart for many who had initially shown support for the protests.

The BBC says the reasons given included violence sparked by the protests, the damaging impact on business and the disruption to traffic.

But the Spotlight poll says a large number of unionists remain sympathetic - 45% of unionists interviewed told the pollsters they believed the union flag protests should continue.

(IT)

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