N. Ireland man fined for blocking traffic during flag protest

April 26, 2013 at 1:45 PM
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BELFAST, Northern Ireland, April 26 (UPI) -- A man who said he got swept up by chance in a protest over the British flag in Northern Ireland was fined Friday for blocking traffic.

William Robinson, 27, of Newtownabbey said he was waiting for a bus in Glengormley, County Antrim, when demonstrators went by on Dec. 6, the Belfast Telegraph reported. Robinson acknowledged being in the road as he walked with the crowd but said cars could get around him.

A vote in December by the Belfast City Council to limit the number of days the British flag is flown at City Hall set off a wave of often-violent protests around Ireland. In the Dec. 6 demonstration, protesters were trying to reach the local office of David Ford, a member of the Alliance Party, which supported the republican Sinn Fein Party to pass the flag restrictions.

Robinson testified at the hearing in Belfast Magistrate's Court: "A woman I didn't even know put a flag around me and said 'Wrap it round you son and come for a protest.' I just went with the flow."

He said he was still wrapped in the flag when he was arrested walking home because he was cold.

But a judge convicted him of obstructing traffic and ordered him to pay a $230 fine.

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