“I am deeply worried by the fact that children and young people are being put at considerable risk during riots in north Belfast and other parts of Northern Ireland.
“I do not condone, in any way, any children or young people who are involved in any criminal acts.
“However, I am concerned that children and young people are being used, are being put at risk and are not being protected.
“Parents and responsible adults must protect children and young people; parents and responsible adults must keep them safe; and parents and responsible adults must prevent children and young people from being involved in criminal activity.
“When parents and responsible adults fail to protect children and young people they put them at risk of harm. I call today on every parent and every responsible adult to make sure their child is safe, and does not become involved in civil disturbances.
“To the irresponsible people who put children at risk I say stay away from children and young people. Political issues cannot be settled or resolved by putting children at risk.
“I am also today writing to the First Minister and deputy First Minister urging that the North Belfast Task Force, and all Government agencies, to concentrate on protecting children and young people from harm.”