VIDEO: Man arrested and child injured during St Patrick’s Day tension

A 12-year-old girl has taken to hospital and a man in his 30s arrested as tension escalated in Belfast city centre on Saint Patrick’s Day.

Just after 3.30pm police revealed that a young girl had been taken to hospital after being struck by a missile from a crowd that had gathered as Castle Junction.

Flag protest outside Belfast City Hall

Flag protest outside Belfast City Hall

And a man in his 30s was arrested for disorderly behaviour at Donegall Square North and will be reported to the PPS.

Tension mounted in Belfast city centre as republicans jeered at Union flag protestors who took their campaign to outside Belfast City Hall in the afternoon.

Area Commander, Chief Inspector, Robert Murdie said: “Police in Belfast City Centre are currently monitoring crowds which have gathered in the area. Isolated incidents of missiles being thrown have been reported.”

He said Donegall Place is closed to traffic due to the large number of people gathered and motorists are advised to avoid the area.

He said officers will maintain a presence whilst crowds remain in the area.

Earlier, flag protestor Billy Dickson, 66, said they decided to hold a protest on Saint Patrick’s Day at City Hall after a day in which “Belfast was not a neutral city because it has been taken over by republicanism”.

The community activist said they were “noticing now more than ever” that Saint Patrick’s Day is being “hijacked by tricolours and intimidation of unionists in the city centre”.

“When unionists go into the city centre they feel intimidated, even if they are getting something to eat,” he added.

“At a normal flag protest there would be an average of 40 to 50 people.

“But there are more here today, spread all along the pavement,”

The flag protest initiated after the December 3, 2012 decision by Belfast City Council who voted to limit the days that the Union Flag flies from Belfast City Hall.