A Twitter movement to support Belfast's bars and restaurants during the unrest in the Northern Irish city has started to gain traction.

The movement, dubbed #operationsitin, encourages locals to go into their local bar or restaurant from 5pm this afternoon, rather than getting caught up in road blocks, as the authorities try to get a grip on sectarian violence prompted by Belfast City Council's decision to restrict the flying of the union flag.

The movement began trending on the social networking site earlier today, as people from across Belfast and beyond expressed their enthusiasm for the idea.

@Im_Dan_Stewart tweeted: "As a bartender I've lost a days pay by not having to come in due to protests. I urge people of #belfast to support city bars #operationsitin."

Other members of the public were tweeting images of a table showing all the special offers available in Belfast bars and restaurants this afternoon and evening.

Meanwhile, seafood restaurant Mourne Seafood (@mourneseafood) said: "A big thank you in advance to all our customers this evening - we appreciate your support."


By Neil Gerrard

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