Northern Ireland

Reaction to riots in Belfast

A round-up of reaction to the violence that flared during loyalist protests against a republican parade in Belfast.

Chief Constable Matt Baggott

"I know that 99%, if not more, of the population will stand with me in utterly condemning those who scarred the reputation of our beautiful city last night.

"Those people had no intention of peaceful protest, they lack self respect and they lack dignity.

"I want to commend my colleagues for their immense courage. I have no doubt whatsoever that they prevented that anarchy from spreading and without that courage, many lives may well have been lost.

"The only voices we should hear now are those unequivocally condemning the violence and supporting fully the actions of police and the rule of law.

"And I don't want to hear any excuses for the disgraceful scenes that took place last night because quite frankly, there aren't any."

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers

"Last night's violence and attacks on police officers were shameful.

"After success for Northern Ireland this summer, as host to both the G8 Summit and the World Police and Fire Games, disorder on the streets is a hugely regrettable step backwards."

DUP councillor Christopher Stalford, Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast

"I think this is a disaster for Belfast and I think it's a disaster that's been created entirely by the Parades Commission.

"Yesterday the DUP went to the police and warned them that the determination of the Parades Commission was a recipe for disaster and here we are now dealing with the mess that the Parades Commission has created.

"The police shouldn't have to be dealing with this, Belfast shouldn't have to be dealing with this."

Sinn Féin North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly

"The violence last night came directly from those who were protesting against the anti-internment parade.

"I'm saying quite clearly that the UVF was involved in this and so was the Orange Order.

"Let's be very, very clear about the anti-internment march. There was no violence came from it, none of them were involved in rioting when the parade was actually moved across in a different direction.

"The rioting that took place was deliberate. It was orchestrated and the people who orchestrated it need to come out and talk about it.

"The Orange Order need to come out and talk about the relationship with the UVF. The Orange Order are now working with them cheek by jowl, so that 's the difficulty in Belfast."

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt

"The violence witnessed in Belfast last night was wrong and I condemn it all, whoever was responsible, and it certainly did not come from a single group.

"I deeply regret the injuries sustained by police officers in the lawful execution of their duty and wish them all speedy and full recoveries.

"Violence against the police from those belonging to the Protestant unionist/loyalist community is not only wrong, it is also playing into the hands of Irish republicanism."

SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell

"The ugly scenes on our streets are an affront to democracy and do not reflect the will of law abiding citizens.

"This was an attack on those who seek to uphold law and order as well as the businesses which are at the very heart of the city and its economic success.

"The depressing message being beamed around the world is that this place is still in the clutches of a minority who would seek to drag us back to the past.

"It is time for the DUP to demonstrate political leadership, to go beyond the politics of 'we told you so' and condemn the actions of those who turned their protests against a republican parade into a shameful and violent desecration of Belfast city centre."

Justice Minister David Ford

"Violence is wrong and no cause, no dispute, no disagreement can justify it. The scenes of loyalist protesters attacking the police service will quickly replace the positive images many have worked hard to deliver in recent weeks.

"Some individuals and groups may not agree with determinations from the Parades Commission, but they do have the weight of the law behind them.

"Until we come up with an alternative way to deal with contentious parades, the police are required to put themselves in the front line to uphold those determinations.

"There were no winners last night, but I know there will be losers amongst the retailers and communities directly affected. I am confident that over the coming days and weeks those involved in the violence will be the main losers as the police begin gathering evidence and carrying out arrests.

"I thank the officers who were on duty in Belfast and send my best wishes to those injured."

Progressive Unionist Party leader Billy Hutchinson

"I think that the disorder that happened in Belfast last night actually shows how far we are away from 15 years ago, whenever we all thought that we had a peace process, a political one that worked.

"It isn't working and the reason for that is working class unionists, or loyalists as some people would describe them, are being trampled into the ground.

"This whole de-Britification that is being carried out by republicans, and helped by others I have to say, in terms of doing all of this and then blaming paramilitary organisations that are not involved - that was people's anger last night, and they don't need paramilitary organisations to show people's anger."

Policing Board Chair Anne Connolly

"The violence and aggression targeted at police last night was shocking and unacceptable. There is no excuse for such disorder and I hope that the officers and members of the public injured in the violence make a full recovery.

"Such violent behaviour on the streets of Belfast on the back of a successful World Police and Fire Games is shameful, causes disruption to the community and will impact on policing resources.

"I urge those who wish to bring themselves on to our streets in coming days to seek peaceful solutions."

Labour's Shadow Minister for NI Steve Pound

"We have seen sad scenes again in Belfast, which have become too familiar over recent months.

"The vast majority of people across the community will unite to condemn attacks on the police and public disorder we have witnessed.

"Both the governments and political leaders in Northern Ireland need to show leadership and address what are becoming far too common scenes."