The Taoiseach has described yesterday's riots in north Belfast as an "affront to democracy" in a speech to the Seanad this afternoon. Dissident Republicans have been blamed for the violence in Ardoyne which left 21 police officers injured. The PSNI used specially trained marksmen to deal with the violent clashes, which occurred after Orange Order parades. The Taoiseach said those who wished to undermine the peace process with no mandate would not succeed: "The continued existence of sectarianism, of peace walls and of deep communal divisions is an affront to democracy and to a civilised society," Mr Cowen said. "It defies belief that this is continuing in the year of 2009." "It must be energetically tackled and confronted by political leaders and by the wider community."