Irish Peace Talks: Angry loyalist demonstrators force their way through the locked gates of Stormont

AS the minutes to last night's talks deadline slipped away, hard- line loyalists launched a desperate last throw by forcing their way through the locked gates at Stormont and marching on the castle.

There was an obvious sense of anger about the crowd, fuelled largely, it appeared, by the realisation that their gesture would be in vain.

But the symbolism was blunt and striking. With Stormont Castle silhouetted behind them the crowd swarmed around a statue of Edward Carson, the grand figure of Unionism and one of the founders of the Unionist state in Northern Ireland. Beneath the statue the crowd continued to protest, arguing that they were being sold out by the on-going talks. Many carried Union Flags and the red hand Ulster flag.

The Rev Ian Paisley appeared and addressed the crowd asking them to go home, their protest having been made, but he was ignored.

The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party was then allowed through police lines and hijacked the press briefing room. His arrival with fellow DUP MPs, the Rev William McRea and Peter Robinson graphically underlined a looming potential split within Unionist ranks over the deal the official Ulster Unionists and other parties were expected to sign today.

He was greeted with shouts of "how many of you people fought in the British army?" and "what about the loyalist prisoners?", from political opponents who tried to sabotage his press conference.

Earlier at the gates of Stormont Mr Paisley had decried the talks process as a sell out. "They do not want democracy," he said, "and we are seeing tonight the jackboot of what will happen if this deal goes through.

"Inside these gates there are scores of IRA men with illegal weapons."

As the midnight deadline passed the crowd managed to breach the line of officers, swarming past Carson's statue and heading towards the Castle Buildings, the part of the estate where the talks have been taking place.

They were stopped again by police reinforcements about 300 yards from where the party leaders were still talking. At this stage Mr Paisley appeared again, cheered by the crowds who continued to chant and sing the national anthem.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower