The Chief Constable of the PSNI has apologized to nationalist residents in Belfast whose homes were attacked by loyalist protesters over the weekend.

The weekend saw continued protests over the ruling in early December to reduce the number of days that the Union flag would fly above City Hall.

Over the weekend a group of around 200 loyalists broke away from the main protest route and marched through the nationalist Short Strand area where they clashed with residents, the BBC reports.

Baggott said during a press briefing on Monday: "Residents should not have been put through that. I'm sorry they were put through that trauma."

“We've seen another weekend of disorder, another weekend where inevitably as the weeks unfold, young people predominantly being brought before the courts with their lives being blighted by criminal convictions.”

Read more:Peace in Northern Ireland shattered by frustrated, under-educated Loyalists whose union flag protests have no clear endgame

He said police were still investigating the recent spate of violence connected with loyalist protests and were trying to identify those involved.

According to Baggott 4,000 people were involved in the protests last Friday night which left 29 officers injured.

Meanwhile The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) estimated that £15 million was lost to the economy over Christmas because some people avoided the commercial centre.

Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce president Joe Jordan said: "There is no doubt that the past two months have been incredibly difficult for traders in Belfast. We want to hear the first-hand experience of businesses, along with their views and opinions on the current crisis."

Loyalists in East Belfast protestTimes