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Protests planned for Northern Ireland

Dec. 20, 2012 at 1:20 PM

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Rush hour demonstrations were planned for Belfast to protest Northern Ireland's use of the Union Flag, loyalists said.

The protests are scheduled for late Friday afternoon when thousands of people leave work and begin their Christmas holidays, the Belfast Telegraph reported Thursday.

There have been three weeks of disturbances across the country, with 40 police officers injured and 40 people arrested since the Belfast City Council agreed to limit the number of days the city government flies the Union Flag, the newspaper said.

The flag, symbolic of the United Kingdom, is favored by pro-British Unionists and Loyalists but is resented by Irish nationalists and Republicans.

The organization Unite Protestant Voice, organizer of the protests, has called for peaceful demonstrations "to ensure that we can portray the image of unionism/loyalism and gain support for the wider PUL community."

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