Mrs Long said: “The scenes that unfolded last night are completely unacceptable. This cycle of violence must not be allowed to continue. I pay tribute to the police officers who were injured and to their colleagues as they tried to police such a volatile situation, after months of relentless pressure from this kind of lawless behaviour.
“Those who go out protesting and parading or those who continue to incite violence and hatred, seem to think it is their rights and only their rights that matter, but what about the rights of the rest of the people across Belfast?
“The majority are not out on the streets, but are growing steadily more frustrated at the continuous cycle of parades, protests and violence. They have the right to see Belfast and Northern Ireland grow and prosper, without shops and businesses being damaged or forced to close every weekend and never knowing what parts of the city are safe to travel to.
“Those behind last night’s violence must be made to take responsibility for their actions – for why on a night when the city was celebrating the success of the World Police and Fire Games, they choose to enact tribal divisions at their worst, and placed PSNI officers’ lives in danger.
“While attempts have been made to explain the reasons behind last night’s violence, let me be very clear – there is no justification for what happened and no excuses should be made to give cover to those who appear intent on raising tensions and ensuring Northern Ireland never gets the shared future it deserves.
“Whilst everyone is looking to the Haass talks to find an agreed way forward, without a serious step-change in political leadership around contentious issues, the prospects of success in the autumn will be low.
“People need to show willingness now to engage to address these issues in a respectful and inclusive manner, respecting the rights not only of the minority who parade or protest, but of the majority who chose to do neither but whose lives and futures are repeatedly endangered and disrupted by the recklessness of others.”