“That’s why we took the actions we took just a couple of weeks ago to help businesses and consumers here in Northern Ireland.
“Obviously, I also appreciate people have talked about the decision last week by the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions), the situation with people coming out of Covid and as the PSNI has said today, pure criminal activity and encouraging young people to take up criminal activity.
“All of these things come together in a way which is completely unacceptable.”
Earlier in the day, ministers in the Stormont Executive condemned the violence and Stormont MLAs unanimously passed a motion calling for an end to the disorder.
In a joint statement, the five-party Executive said: “While our political positions are very different on many issues, we are all united in our support for law and order and we collectively state our support for policing and for the police officers who have been putting themselves in harm’s way to protect others.
“We, and our departments, will continue to work together to maximise the support we can give to communities and the PSNI to prevent further violence and unrest.”
The violence is unfolding at a time of increasing rancour in the political sphere amid tensions over Brexit’s Irish Sea trade border and the fallout from the police’s handling of the mass republican funeral that took place during pandemic restrictions last year.
As rioting has flared across Northern Ireland, all four main unionist parties continue to call for Mr Byrne to quit over how his service dealt with the funeral of former IRA leader Bobby Storey.
Unionists are furious at a decision by prosecutors not to take action against 24 Sinn Fein politicians, including Ms O’Neill, for attending the funeral – a decision partly related to the fact that police had engaged with organisers before the event that drew 2,000 people on to the streets.