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Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson has urged loyalists to back the Good Friday agreement after another night of violence in East Belfast.

Loyalist flag riots leave 29 police injured in Belfast as violence escalates

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Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson has urged loyalists to back the Good Friday agreement after another night of violence in East Belfast.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson has urged loyalists to back the Good Friday agreement after another night of violence in East Belfast.

Flag protest riots left 29 police officers injured as Robinson appealed for calm.

First Minister Robinson has warned that the present unrest is costing the North’s economy millions of dollars and seriously damaging the tourism industry.

He has also stated that the only way to end violence in Northern Ireland is through the political process.

Robinson condemned those responsible for injuring dozens of police officers but claimed the protesters have become alienated.

Speaking to the BBC, Stormont leader Robinson said: “There are political issues and people that feel disengaged and people that feel if we are trying to build a shared future they are not getting their share.

“We took some difficult decisions, some might say historic decisions to build a shared society in Northern Ireland.

“I think it is important to tell the wider community in Northern Ireland and our friends in the rest of the United Kingdom that we are not giving up on that.

“We are very much of the view that we are determined that we build the kind of society where everybody can have a peaceful and stable existence.”

Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness are due to meet with the British and Irish governments this week.

He added: “We will make it very clear to both governments the condemnation that exists in the wider Northern Ireland community for the violence.”

Northern Ireland police chief Matt Baggott has praised the courage of his officers injured in another night of violence as riots broke out in east Belfast between republicans and loyalists returning from a protest at Belfast City Hall.

Chief constable Baggott said: “This was a difficult operation dealing with a large number of people determined to cause disorder and violence.

“My colleagues brought the situation under control with exceptional courage and professionalism.

“The vast majority of people are grateful for their efforts as fireworks, bricks and other missiles rained down on officers on duty last night.”

A spokesman for one of the groups behind the protests has said people should avoid demonstrations, if they need to visit places like hospitals.

His statement follows an incident in Rathcoole when a pensioner was blocked from getting to a hospital to visit his seriously ill wife.

Wayne Gilmore from the United Protestant Voice said: “Disruption is inevitable during the street protests and people should bear this in mind.”

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