POLICE have revealed that a total 56 police officers were injured during one of the worst nights of rioting seen in Belfast.
One police officer was knocked out during clashes with loyalist protestors after he was struck on the neck by an iron railing which bounced off his riot shield.
And a female officer had to be treated at the scene by a member of the public while colleagues used riot shields as protection from loyalist missiles.
Trouble erupted after loyalists blocked Royal Avenue to prevent a republican anti-internment rally walking through it.
The police fired 26 plastic bullets and made seven arrests on Friday evening amid sustained rioting in Royal Avenue.
Ulster Unionist MLA Michael Copeland was also injured after he was struck on the leg with a baton by a police officer.
He has made a complaint to the PSNI which has been passed to the office of the Police Ombudsman.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton said the violence could have a lasting effect on Northern Ireland.
“Whilst facilitating the Parades Commission determination for tonight’s parade and associated protests, police have come under heavy and sustained attack by crowds intent on creating disorder,” said ACC Hamilton.
“As Northern Ireland moves ahead, the effect of tonight’s violence has the potential to damage the local economy and the reputation of Belfast as a tourist destination.”