630 G8 police to be drafted for Twelfth

630 G8 police to be drafted for Twelfth

A request has been made for an extra 630 police officers to be deployed to Northern Ireland from Britain to police this year's Twelfth parades, Chief Constable Matt Baggott has said.

Making the announcement on Tuesday, Mr Baggott said: "2013 is the year when there is a real opportunity to break the cycle of violence."

"Personally I don't want young people getting caught up in rioting, I want my police officers, my colleagues to be dealing with the things that blight communities in terms of day to day crime and not having to investigate disorder as we've done for the first three months of this year."

He said this year was unique in the scale and number of parades.

"There's going to be about 550 parades, some 43 of which are going to be sensitive," he explained.

"I've therefore asked this year, for the first time, for 30 units of mutual aid to support my colleagues."

The officers will come from England, Wales and Scotland and have previously trained with PSNI for the G8 Summit last month in Co Fermanagh.

They will be used as a strategic reserve and deployed in the less sensitive areas, to work alongside PSNI colleagues.

"Their professionalism, their ability to work alongside my colleagues was first rate," Mr Baggott added.

This is not going to be the routine but it was important as we see the depth and scale of the parades on the 12 July that we are prepared for every eventuality but most importantly that we support people in parading and keep people safe.

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland welcomed the decision by the Chief Constable.

Federation chairman Terry Spence says that having run down the PSNI to fewer than 7,000 officers and suffered from a recruitment freeze for the past three years it was inevitable that we would eventually have to call upon mutual aid from UK colleagues.

"Given the particular volatile circumstances of Northern Ireland mutual aid can be only a temporary answer to what is clearly a problem which refuses to go away," he said.

"The successful management of public order confrontation together with the threat from dissident republican terrorism requires a structured long term response by the PSNI. Essentially that means a significant, urgent and permanent boost to police numbers and resources."

Mr Baggott revealed the details following a briefing with the five party leaders at Stormont castle.

Following the meeting the leaders issued a joint statement appealing for all those with influence in the community to work to ensure a peaceful parading season.

"We welcome the briefing by the Chief Constable and note the steps that are being taken to police the events of the upcoming period and to keep people safe," they said.

"We would like to acknowledge the significant efforts made around the contentious parades that have taken place already this year by community leaders and police.

"We would highlight, in particular, the recent talks between representatives of the Orange Order and Crumlin Ardoyne Residents' Association and the efforts of both organisations over recent years to ensure peace."

We appeal to community leaders and, indeed others, such as parents to seek a peaceful parading season to avoid an impact on our citizens, through damaged community relations or the life-restricting consequences of criminal records.

Joint party statement

The statement added: "It is clear from the comments made that both sides regarded the engagement as positive and that there is an opportunity for further talks in the future. Dialogue is clearly an essential ingredient of building good relations and mutual understanding."

The party leaders stressed that violence is not acceptable in a democratic society nor is it inevitable and called for the law to be respected and upheld at all times.

They said they did not want to see the good work of this year's events including the G8 undermined.

They added all-party talks on parading and other issues had been agreed on by the Executive and will commence later this year.

Dr Richard Haass, the former United States Envoy to Northern Ireland, has been appointed as independent chair of the all-party group.

© UTV

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