Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said he wants a stronger stance from all party leaders against the flag protests and associated violence.

Speaking during a visit to the Short Strand area, Mr McGuinness said that the statement issued by all the party leaders before Christmas was not as strong as he wanted.

He said he had a meeting with leaders in Stormont where this was discussed.

All political leaders need to make it absolutely clear they oppose the protests, he said, and that they want the protests to end and they unreservedly condemn the associated violence.

Mr McGuinness added that what worked in the past when the assembly was confronted by violent "so-called republicanism" was "the sight of us standing together in absolute unity".

More than 100 police officers have been injured since the protests started on 3 December when Belfast city councillors voted to limit the number of days the Union flag is flown over City Hall.

A number of protests across Belfast last night passed off without incident.

Roads in the north and south of the city were blocked and bus services were disrupted, but there was none of the serious violence seen recently on the streets.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore is to travel to Belfast to discuss the ongoing controversy with First Minister Peter Robinson, Mr McGuinness and Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers.