The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have issued a statement following clashes between loyalist and republican protesters over the flying over the Union flag. A PSNI spokesperson said:
Over the previous number of days police had undertaken significant engagement with representatives from all communities, in anticipation of a movement of protestors into and out of the city centre from east Belfast.
Police came under further heavy, sustained attack and, given the level of violence being directed at police, six AEPs (baton rounds) were discharged and water cannon were deployed.
Twenty nine police officers were injured with four officers requiring hospital treatment. Two officers have been discharged and two remain in hospital.
Police have said that 29 officers were injured during sectarian clashes in east Belfast over the flying of the Union flag.
Chief Constable Matt Baggott said it 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.
I know the vast majority of people will be grateful for their efforts. Police will continue to engage with all those committed to finding a solution to these issues
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has responded to clashes in Belfast between loyalist and republican protesters over Belfast council's decision to restrict the flying of the Union flag.
Mr Adams said there should be a cross-community response. He added:
"But there can be no going back. The tiny minorities who want to cling to the past must be rejected. Sectarianism must be tackled and ended."
The Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt has appealed for calm to allow talks to make progress, as clashes between loyalist and republican protesters continue in Belfast. Mr Nesbitt said:
Street violence from so-called unionists, no matter what age, advances nothing but the cause of Irish nationalism.
It is high time those involved in rioting realised they are destroying the very cause the hope to promote.
1/2 Police can now confirm that 16 officers have been injured in disorder in East Belfast this afternoon. Four AEPs have been fired.From @PoliceServiceNI on Twitter:
2/2 Police continue to maintain a presence in the area advise the public to avoid Castlereagh St, Albertbridge Rd & Templemore Ave.From @PoliceServiceNI on Twitter:
Community leaders have come out on the streets of Belfast in an attempt to stop clashes between loyalists and republicans. ITV's Emily Morgan reports that violence has descended into "chaos", but continues to be "contained".
Five police have now been injured in clashes between loyalists and republicans in east Belfast over the council's decision to limit the number of days the Union flag is flown from City Hall.
Ireland's Tanaiste (deputy leader) Eamonn Gilmore has said that unrest in Belfast over the Union flag has "nothing to do with real issues", after more than 40 days of road blocks and sporadic violence by loyalists have failed to produce a solution in Belfast.
Mr Gilmore said:
This violence is being orchestrated and those behind it are known criminals, intent on creating chaos.
This has nothing to do with real issues around flags and identity in a shared society, which are the subject of intensive political discussions at present.
Water canons were deployed and a non-lethal baton round has been fired by riot police against protesters, demonstrating over the Belfast council's decision to limit the number of days the Union flag is flown from City Hall.