Belfast finally calmed down on Wednesday morning after another night of rioting as Nationalist youths clashed with members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
The worst of the riots occurred in the Catholic Ardoyne area of the city after a 12th of July Orange Order parade passed within yards of the estate.
Youths threw fireworks, petrol bombs and other missiles as they engaged in running battles with police who responded by firing baton rounds and deploying a water cannon.
Several police officers were injured in the ugly exchanges and a press photographer was hit by a baton round fired by the PSNI.
Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay told reporters that his police officers had dealt with ‘a significant public disorder’.
He also thanked community leaders and representatives from both sides of the political divide for their efforts to reduce tensions and restore calm.
“Whilst I commend the bravery and leadership of many within the community who worked tirelessly to reduce the disorder and calm tensions - we need everyone to keep working to build and maintain calm across all local areas,” said Finlay.
“My colleagues are working around the clock to protect the community right across Northern Ireland and we have sufficient resources in place to do this.
“The policing operation in Ardoyne was proportionate but several officers were injured. My colleagues have acted with great professionalism to keep communities safe under very difficult circumstances.”
Disturbances also took place in south Belfast, Derry, Strabane, Newry, Ballymena and Armagh city.
A 14-year-old boy was amongst a number of suspects arrested for riotous behavior across the North.
North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds condemned the riots. He said: “These people have been intent on attacking the police and wreaking havoc in their own community.
“Such violence is senseless and has clearly nothing to do with protesting against a parade but is just futile rioting.”
Alliance Party Belfast City Council member Billy Webb said that the Ardoyne riot had caused enormous damage to the local community.
“Residents in the area are the ones who suffer the most with people feeling trapped in their own homes, scared to go out. Bus services are also affected in the area which the vulnerable rely upon,” said Webb.
“This trouble is putting Northern Ireland in the headlines around the world for all the wrong reasons.”
The riots followed traditional 12th of July marches by Orangemen across Ulster as they celebrated the commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and the victory of Protestant King William III over Catholic King James II.
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