LEADING flag protestor Willie Frazer will appear in Belfast Magistrates Court this morning to face charges relating to his alleged role in Province-wide protests.
Jamie Bryson is refusing food and water while in custody, a Pastor and friend of his has said.
Pastor Gordon told the News Letter that the loyalist was still being questioned after 9pm at Musgrave Street police station in Belfast.
“From this point on he told me by phone he is refusing food and water,” Mr Gordon said. “His solicitor is currently with him.”
Mr Gordon said that before Mr Bryson was arrested the leading flag protestor had been speaking with the chief superintendent for C District by telephone.
“They were supposed to be meeting, Jamie had been speaking with him about managing the situation. It is not clear whether the [police] search teams found him first.
“Jamie is protesting his innocence. For days the police have been saying they had no arrest warrant for him – and then they arrest him.”
It is understood there were several small flag protests on Thursday night, one of around 20 people outside Musgrave Street police station, where Mr Bryson and Mr Frazer were being held, and a similar number of people were involved in a protest at Sandy Row in Belfast. There were unconfirmed reports of larger protests in Ballymena and Coleraine.
Pastor Barrie Halliday, acting director of Markethill victims group FAIR which was previously led by Mr Frazer, said they had been expecting him to be released from custody on Thursday night.
“Jamie Bryson is just one of many protestors,” he said. “We see what victims have suffered and what has not been done for them. And then we compare that to the lengths they will go to, to arrest Jamie Bryson.”
Flag protestors have been on the streets since before Christmas, after Belfast councillors voted to restrict the flying of the Union Flag to designated days. Although most protests have been peaceful, Chief Constable Matt Baggott has said a small number of UVF members were involved in orchestrating violence which saw some 150 police officers injured and Belfast trade badly damaged.
Community leaders in east Belfast say that the flag issue was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. A major grievance, they said, is the perception that there are one-sided probes into the past, with only security forces and loyalists being heavily investigated.