PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott has said today is one of "overwhelming sadness" following another weekend of violence in Belfast.
He described the latest trouble as "a big challenge" and said the way forward was consistent condemnation of violence and to reassert the legitimacy of politics.
Mr Baggott said Friday's rioting was intense and made more difficult by the sheer scale of the trouble - there were 4,000 out in total and not stewarded.
But he said the trouble was contained, using measured and responsible policing. A more rigid approach would be impossible he added, with safety the top priority.
Twenty-nine police officers were injured during sectarian riots between republicans and loyalists in east Belfast today.
The union flag will be raised at dawn over Belfast City Hall for the first time since the dispute began last month.
Police were attacked for a third night, with frontline officers reportedly coming under gunfire as new loyalist trouble erupted in Belfast.