Fifty six policemen were injured and parts of Belfast became a battlefield as Loyalist rioters, protesting a Republican internment day commemoration march battled with police.

The loyalists, who numbered over 1,000 clashed with police in violent scenes after Loyalist social media outlets called for a massive protest against the Republican parade.

In the subsequent running battles many police were injured.

Police say rioters set cars on fire and climbed on rooftops to try and set buildings on fire.The Republican parade, which had government sanction to go ahead, is not usually controversial.

Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton heavily criticised those who arranged the demonstrations.

'There was absolutely no organisation, no co-ordination, no leadership around any of those protests,' he told the Daily Mail.

'There was no attempt whatsoever, that we could see, of any organised or coordinated protest activity in keeping with that which had been notified to the parades commission.'

He said the violence in the Royal Avenue area was 'very severe'.

'There were all sorts of weapons and equipment being used against police, including scaffolding, masonry, people were pulling up the paving stones from the busiest shopping precinct in Belfast and were destroying our city and taking that masonry and throwing it at our police officers who put their lives on the line to try and keep people safe.

'There was nothing lawful about this protest, there was nothing peaceful about it - it was sheer thuggery.'

'We would call on anyone with any influence to stand up and be counted, actually to show some leadership around what is a difficult set of circumstances for us, but we actually need those with influence within the community to use that for good, so that we don't resort to the violent scenes that we saw last night.'