Belfast riot tactics defended by PSNI chief constable

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Riot police remove protesters
Image caption,
Riot police removed republican protesters blocking the Crumlin Road on Monday night

Police tactics during rioting in north Belfast were "proportionate" and "absolutely appropriate", Northern Ireland's chief constable has said.

Matt Baggott was responding to comments by DUP MLA Lord Morrow, who said "containment is simply appeasement" and urged him to rethink his policies.

Mr Baggott is to meet first and deputy first ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness later to discuss three nights of rioting which left more than 80 police officers injured.

Rioters attacked police in several nationalist areas after Monday's parades by the loyalist Orange Order.

On the eve of the annual Twelfth parades, three police officers were injured by a masked man firing a shotgun.

Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness condemned the "outright thuggery and vandalism".

The DUP leader also said he would be raising with Mr Baggott "unacceptable" comments by a senior police officer alleging poor political leadership.

Before their joint statement on Tuesday, Assistant Chief Constable Alastair Finlay had questioned whether there was a joined-up approach to preventing violence over the 12th of July period.

He said: "Are we seeing the first minister or the deputy first minister stepping out to condemn this and showing that they will have a plan to meet this type of issue next time it comes round, rather than waiting until it inevitably comes next year?"

Mr Robinson said he and Mr McGuinness of Sinn Fein would continue to work to resolve the difficulties around Orange Order parading.

Mr McGuinness said both men were "resolute" in their commitment to tackle sectarianism.

Mr Baggott said: "I welcome the condemnation of the violent disorder over the past few days from all of those who have a say in the future of Northern Ireland."

"When policing disorder such as that witnessed in Ardoyne on Monday night, the Police Service of Northern Ireland operates within the law and in a proportionate manner, as required by the Human Rights Act," he said.

"The tactics used on Monday were absolutely appropriate in the circumstances, and would stand scrutiny anywhere in the United Kingdom and beyond."