Baggott tells press young people are being led “by the nose towards prison”

BBC report Matt Baggott words this morning…

Mr Baggott defended a police operation on Saturday when a “breakaway crowd” of loyalist protesters marched past a nationalist area in east Belfast.

“Residents should not have been put through that. I’m sorry they were put through that trauma,” he said. He warned those taking part in the riots “a knock on the door was coming”.

Mr Baggott said that police estimated more than 4,000 people took part in street protests on Friday across Northern Ireland. Some descended into rioting, with police attacked in Rathcoole in Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus in County Antrim and in east Belfast.

Twenty-nine police officers were injured at the weekend in rioting at east Belfast’s Short Strand interface. One remains in hospital. It followed a loyalist protest over the decision to restrict the flying of the union flag at Belfast City Hall.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty