David Ford said: “The violence which took place at the City Hall and round St Matthew’s Church was the responsibility of two groups of people. The first is those who went to the City Hall spoiling for a fight, who attacked police officers and Council staff.
“But there is a second group which bears responsibility. DUP and UUP politicians fomented this protest, with both leaflets and the use of social media. They called people onto the streets. They must have known, from experience as recent as this summer, that violence was almost inevitable. They cannot avoid their responsibility.
“Belfast was enjoying the first day of late night shopping and the Continental Market. The picture that we want the world to see, of a society moving on, was totally eclipsed by violence and disorder, including sectarian attacks on St Matthew’s Church and the Short Strand area.
“Such violence should be condemned by all civic and community leaders. Sadly, given the role of their two parties, any such condemnation from Peter Robinson or Mike Nesbitt would amount to nothing more than rank hypocrisy.”