Water canons were deployed for the first time in six years on Thursday with the violence resulting in the injuries of over 70 police officers. Violence was reported on both sides of gates separating loyalist and nationalist areas in West Belfast with petrol bombs, fireworks and stones being hurled at police.
On Thursday, Jonathan Roberts Northern Ireland Assistant Chief Constable said it was “clear there was a degree of organisation” to the violence.
The Loyalist Communities Council which represents the UDA, UVF and Red Hand Commando paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland said in response that none of its organisations were involved “directly or indirectly” in the violence.
It added: “The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental human right but we have made it clear in all our public statements that any actions taken by the loyalist community should be entirely peaceful.”
Mr Roberts then recanted his statement, explaining that the violence was “not orchestrated by a group, in the name of that group.”
He said: “There are certainly people who have been engaged in violence who are nothing to do with any illegal organisation.
“We feel that there may be some people who could have connection to proscribed organisations, who have been present on the scenes of violence.
“But we don’t believe it’s been sanctioned and organised by prescribed organisations for peaceful protests.”
Mr Roberts urged the public to do their part to prevent further unrest and issued a warning that there would be serious consequences for those involved.
READ MORE: Northern Ireland chaos: Police officers injured and water cannon used
“I hope and I urge all young people to not engage, do not allow yourself to be used or manipulated in any sort of way, and to stay off the streets, stay home and stay safe.”