Page last updated at 13:30 GMT, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 14:30 UK

Charges follow 'flags protest'

A crowd of up to 70 loyalists gathered outside Banbridge poliec station
A crowd of up to 70 loyalists gathered at Banbridge police station

Four men have been charged with public order offences after a crowd allegedly tried to remove tricolours which had put up in Banbridge.

A crowd of up to 70 loyalists gathered in Peggy's Loaning around 2100 BST on Tuesday and tried to put up a union flag before the police moved in.

They moved to Banbridge police station before dispersing around midnight.

The four men who are aged 18, 22, 27 and 29 will appear in court in Newry on on 3 September.

They face charges including unlawful assembly, riotous behaviour and assault on police.

One of the protestors, who gave his name as Chris, told BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show that the police had been told earlier on Tuesday that there would be a protest if the flags were not taken down.

Ladders

He said the police had not taken this seriously so they decided they would attempt to remove the flags.

"The PSNI made a roadblock, there was a peaceful protest and we decided to put a union jack up on one of the lamp posts," he continued.

"The ladders went up and one of the fellas put a union jack up and the police started their charge."

He said the protestors had no weapons and did not believe they had acted in a way likely to intimidate.

"There was members of the public also coming from out of the houses around that estate that were also in a show of support," he said.

SDLP councillor Seamus Doyle said Banbridge should be a neutral place and that flags should not be flown from lamp posts.

Ulster Unionist MLA George Savage said the incident should not have taken place.

The area's DUP MP David Simpson said he was concerned by the police response.

"The law allows for the removal of flags where there is potential for civil disorder and yet the police failed to remove the Irish tricolours that were erected in the town. How is this?

"I am concerned that, if reports are to be believed, the police only moved to arrest people when an attempt was made to erect a Union flag. I will be taking this issue up with the local police," he added.



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