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A burned out car during disturbances which erupted in east Belfast

A burned out car during disturbances which erupted in east Belfast

Police on patrol during disturbances which erupted in east Belfast

Police on patrol during disturbances which erupted in east Belfast

Loyalist protesters on their way to Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protesters on their way to Belfast City Hall

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

PSNI in Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

PSNI in Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

PSNI officers in Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

PSNI officers in Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Sunday 6th  January 2013 - 

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast this evening following a loyalist protest.

A campaign of street demonstrations has been ongoing since Belfast City Council took a vote on 3 December which limited the number of days the union flag is flown at Belfast City Hall.

Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Sunday 6th January 2013 - A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast this evening following a loyalist protest. A campaign of street demonstrations has been ongoing since Belfast City Council took a vote on 3 December which limited the number of days the union flag is flown at Belfast City Hall. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Sunday 6th  January 2013 - A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast this evening following a loyalist protest.A campaign of street demonstrations has been ongoing since Belfast City Council took a vote on 3 December which limited the number of days the union flag is flown at Belfast City Hall.Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Sunday 6th January 2013 - A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast this evening following a loyalist protest.A campaign of street demonstrations has been ongoing since Belfast City Council took a vote on 3 December which limited the number of days the union flag is flown at Belfast City Hall.Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

A car burns in the Castlereagh Street of east Belfast

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Loyalist protesters block of the Newtownards Road Belfast where shots are reported to have been fired on Saturday January 5 2013

Loyalist protesters block of the Newtownards Road Belfast where shots are reported to have been fired on Saturday January 5 2013

Colm O'Reilly Photography

Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast City Hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast City Hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Mark McCormick

Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast City Hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast City Hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Mark McCormick

Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast City Hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast City Hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Mark McCormick

Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast City Hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast City Hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Loyalist Protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013. Ongoing protests and demonstrations continue at the removal of the Union flag from the city hall. The protest was largley peacfull with only minor skermishes.Picture Mark McCormick.

Loyalist Protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013. Ongoing protests and demonstrations continue at the removal of the Union flag from the city hall. The protest was largley peacfull with only minor skermishes.Picture Mark McCormick.

Mark McCormick

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards after a Loyalist flag protest at Belfast City Hall

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards after a Loyalist flag protest at Belfast City Hall

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Willie Frazer at loyalist protests near Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Willie Frazer at loyalist protests near Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Mark McCormick

Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Mark McCormick

Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Mark McCormick

Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Mark McCormick

Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Mark McCormick

Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Loyalist protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Mark McCormick

Willie Frazer talks to Sara Girvin as loyalist protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Willie Frazer talks to Sara Girvin as loyalist protestors converge on Belfast city hall. Picture date: Saturday January 5, 2013

Mark McCormick

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

SNI officers on the Lower Newtownards

SNI officers on the Lower Newtownards

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Loyalist flag protest at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist flag protest at Belfast City Hall

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Loyalist flag protest at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist flag protest at Belfast City Hall

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Loyalist flag protest at Belfast City Hall.

Loyalist flag protest at Belfast City Hall.

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards t

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards t

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Loyalist flag protest at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist flag protest at Belfast City Hall

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Loyalist flag protest at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist flag protest at Belfast City Hall

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards road, Belfast January 5 2013

PSNI officers on the Lower Newtownards road, Belfast January 5 2013

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Castlereagh Street area of east Belfast following loyalist rioting January 3 2013

Castlereagh Street area of east Belfast following loyalist rioting January 3 2013

Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013

Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013

Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013

Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013

Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013

Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013

A burning barricade on the Newtownards road area of Belfast, where police have been targeted by rioters

A burning barricade on the Newtownards road area of Belfast, where police have been targeted by rioters

Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013

Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013

Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013

Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013

Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013

Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013

Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013

Flag protest at Cluan Place, January 3 2013

Carrickfergus flag protest. January 2, 2013

Carrickfergus flag protest. January 2, 2013

Carrickfergus Flag Protest, January 2 2013.

Carrickfergus Flag Protest, January 2 2013.

Loyalists across Northern Ireland have been protesting since councillors in Belfast voted to limit the number of days they fly the Union flag

Loyalists across Northern Ireland have been protesting since councillors in Belfast voted to limit the number of days they fly the Union flag

Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012

Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Jackie McDonald has warned that loyalist protests cannot succeed in having the Union flag reinstated above Belfast City Hall

Jackie McDonald has warned that loyalist protests cannot succeed in having the Union flag reinstated above Belfast City Hall

Martin McKeown

Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012

Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012

Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012

Mark McCormick

Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012

Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012

Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012

Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012

Loyalist protestors and PSNI officers pictured at Belfast City Hall on 22 December 2012

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Loyalists block the Sandy Row area of Belfast as part of a mass protest over flags

Loyalists block the Sandy Row area of Belfast as part of a mass protest over flags

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt and First Minister Peter Robinson were among those holding talks about the Union flag dispute in Belfast

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt and First Minister Peter Robinson were among those holding talks about the Union flag dispute in Belfast

Loyalists protesting around the village area in south Belfast December 17 2012

Loyalists protesting around the village area in south Belfast December 17 2012

Loyalists protesting, blocking traffic in Derry

Loyalists protesting, blocking traffic in Derry

MCLAUGHLIN ©

Loyalists protesting, blocking traffic in Derry

Loyalists protesting, blocking traffic in Derry

MCLAUGHLI ©

Loyalists protesting, blocking traffic in Derry

Loyalists protesting, blocking traffic in Derry

MCLAUGHLIN ©

Loyalist hold protests around the village area in south Belfast

Loyalist hold protests around the village area in south Belfast

Loyalist hold protests around the village area in south Belfast

Loyalist hold protests around the village area in south Belfast

Loyalist hold protests around the village area in south Belfast

Loyalist hold protests around the village area in south Belfast

Loyalist hold protests around the village area in south Belfast

Loyalist hold protests around the village area in south Belfast

Loyalist hold protests around the village area in south Belfast

Loyalist hold protests around the village area in south Belfast

Loyalist hold protests around the village area in south Belfast

Loyalist hold protests around the village area in south Belfast

Loyalists taking part in a protest over the restrictions of flying the Union flag protesting outside Belfast City Hall

Loyalists taking part in a protest over the restrictions of flying the Union flag protesting outside Belfast City Hall

Up to 1,000 people took part in the cross community Peace Gathering in Belfast city centre

Up to 1,000 people took part in the cross community Peace Gathering in Belfast city centre

Loyalists in Belfast have been protesting against a decision to reduce the number of days the Union flag will fly from City Hall

Loyalists in Belfast have been protesting against a decision to reduce the number of days the Union flag will fly from City Hall

Protest outside the Alliance Party office in East Belfast belonging to Naomi Long, following the decision by Belfast City Council to stop flying the union flag every day. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday December 4, 2012. See PA story ULSTER Flag. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Protest outside the Alliance Party office in East Belfast belonging to Naomi Long, following the decision by Belfast City Council to stop flying the union flag every day. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday December 4, 2012. See PA story ULSTER Flag. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Paul Faith

Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag

Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag

Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a flag protest

Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a flag protest

Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag

Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag

Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag

Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag

Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag

Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag

Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag

Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag

Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag

Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag

Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag

Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag

Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag

Alliance party office which was set on fire in Carrickfergus after a protest rally over the Union flag

Police in Carrick come under attack from protestors following a fire at the  Alliance party office

Police in Carrick come under attack from protestors following a fire at the Alliance party office

Police in Carrick come under attack from protestors following a fire at the  Alliance party office

Police in Carrick come under attack from protestors following a fire at the Alliance party office

Aftermath of riots in Carrickfergus. Photograph by Mark Winter

Aftermath of riots in Carrickfergus. Photograph by Mark Winter

Aftermath of riots in Carrickfergus. Photograph by Mark Winter

Aftermath of riots in Carrickfergus. Photograph by Mark Winter

Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days.  Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest

Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days. Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest

Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days.

Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days.

Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.  Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days.  Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.

Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days. Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.

Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.  Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days.  Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.

Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days. Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.

Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.  Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days.  Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.

Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days. Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.

Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.  Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days.  Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.

Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days. Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.

Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.  Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days.  Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.

Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days. Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.

Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.  Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days.  Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.

Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days. Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.

Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.  Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days.  Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.

Northern Ireland- 4th December 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days. Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest.

Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days.  Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest

Loyalist hold protest at Naomi Long's east Belfast Alliance office following a council vote last night which will see the Union Flag only follow certain days. Loyalist protesters pictured on the Newtownards Road during the protest

Loyalist protestors carrying Union flags clash with police outside the City Hall in Belfast

Loyalist protestors carrying Union flags clash with police outside the City Hall in Belfast

Paul Faith

Loyalist protestors carrying Union flags clash with police outside the City Hall in Belfast

Loyalist protestors carrying Union flags clash with police outside the City Hall in Belfast

Paul Faith

Loyalist protestors carrying Union flags clash with police outside the City Hall in Belfast

Loyalist protestors carrying Union flags clash with police outside the City Hall in Belfast

Paul Faith

Loyalist protestors carrying Union flags clash with police outside the City Hall in Belfast

Loyalist protestors carrying Union flags clash with police outside the City Hall in Belfast

Paul Faith

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Paul Faith

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Paul Faith

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

A burned out car during disturbances which erupted in east Belfast

Loyalist violence over the flying of the union flag will be firmly dealt with for as long as necessary, Northern Ireland's police chief has declared.

Matt Baggott's warning came just hours before fresh disturbances erupted in Belfast, with police coming under attack for a fourth night in a row.

A mob hurled steel barriers, bricks, fireworks and bottles at officers patrolling Castlereagh Street in the east of the city.

A protest in the area earlier in the day had dispersed, before factions broke away and launched an onslaught on police lines.

Disorder was also reported on Mountpottinger Road and Beersbridge Road, where a car was set ablaze. But PSNI chief constable Mr Baggott has signalled his rank-and-file were fully prepared to deal with the ongoing street disturbances.

"I want to commend the tireless courage of my officers at this very difficult time," he said. "Fifty two colleagues have now been injured while protecting the community during a series of violent incidents. You may be assured there will be sufficient resources in the event of more disorder for however long is necessary."

Mr Baggott said the PSNI will do "everything possible" to maintain law and order and deal firmly with the ugly scenes that have marred Northern Ireland over recent days. He added: "As you have seen in the last few days we will continue to apprehend and put people before the courts."

So far, 70 people have been arrested in connection with the sporadic rioting over the flying of the union flag on Belfast's City Hall. Through special sittings of the city's magistrates court, 47 people have already being charged. On Saturday, frontline officers reported coming under gunfire. A 38-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

More than 1,000 demonstrators had earlier marched on City Hall, but despite tense scenes and some scuffles the rally passed off without major incident. As the flag-waving crowds broke up, violence again flared on the Newtownards Road and surrounding areas in the traditionally unionist east of the city.

Around 100 loyalists hurled petrol bombs, fireworks, smoke canisters, bricks and other masonry at officers, the PSNI said. Laser pens were also directed at officers' faces. Police responded with water cannon and fired three plastic bullets. One officer was injured.

PA