Page last updated at 11:16 GMT, Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Matter of the Day

The Alliance Party leader questioned whether the assembly commission should meet, given the "charged atmosphere", on 11 December 2012.

The DUP's Peter Weir was due to propose a process of consultation on extending the number of days the union flag was flown over the Northern Ireland Assembly building at the commission's meeting that day.

The union flag currently flies over the assembly building for 15 days a year.

The assembly commission is a cross-party group that manages Parliament Buildings.

David Ford brought a 'matter of the day' to the Northern Ireland Assembly on what police have called the attempted murder of a police officer in east Belfast.

On 10 December, a gang of six men smashed the back window of the policewoman's car which was parked on the Newtownards Road and threw in a petrol bomb.

The woman, who was inside the car at the time, escaped unhurt.

It followed loyalist protests about the earlier week's decision by Belfast City Council to fly the union flag at City Hall on designated days, not daily.

"This has taken us into a worse position than we were," Mr Ford said.

"No longer are we talking about how many days the union flag is flown at City Hall, we are now talking about the contest between democracy and the rule of law on the one hand, and terrorism and fascism on the other hand."

"We need unequivocal support for the rule of law."

North Down Alliance MLA Stephen Farry told the house his constituency office in Bangor had also been attacked by a petrol bomb on 10 December.

It was the second time his office was targeted in the last seven days.

Twenty-nine police officers were injured and 38 people arrested after trouble flared across Northern Ireland.

The violence was also raised in the House of Commons on 11 December.

The planned meeting eventually did not proceed after the Alliance party said they would not attend.

Sinn Fein and the SDLP did not appear either.


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