Cathal McNoughton/Reuters

Tensions are never far beneath the surface in Ulster.

Protests from British nationalists have become a fixture in front of Belfast City Hall in the month since the City Council voted to restrict flying the Union Jack to certain days of the year.

Now, in addition to those daytime sit-ins, the city has undergone four consecutive nights of rioting, scenes that recall Ulster's troubled past. Over 50 police officers have been injured in battles with hundred of protesters throwing bricks and Molotov cocktails.

Tonight, the City Council meets for the first time since the vote on the Union Jack, which has traditionally flown over City Hall every day of the year.

Loyalist protesters demonstrate against restrictions on flying Britain's union flag from Belfast City Hall in central Belfast. Jan. 5, 2013.
Burning debris blocks the Newtownards Road in east Belfast. Jan. 5, 2013.
A burnt out car blocks Dee Street in east Belfast. Jan. 6, 2013.
Police in riot gear walk through central Belfast. Jan. 5, 2013.
Loyalist protesters demonstrate against restrictions on flying Britain's union flag from Belfast City Hall in central Belfast. Jan. 5, 2013.

All images: Cathal McNoughton/Reuters.

About the Author

Henry Grabar

Henry Grabar is a freelance writer and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.   

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