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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Cleaner

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Account Executive - £40K OTE

£11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy