Terror, protests and parades cost £260m

Published Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Toggle font size

Justice Minister David Ford has revealed over a third of the PSNI's annual budget is spent on tackling the terrorism threat, public disorder and parades.

Terror, protests and parades cost £260m
Over a third of the PSNI’s budget has been spent on security costs. (© Presseye)

Over the past year, dissident republicans have significantly increased their activity.

In November, they were behind a proxy car bomb intended for Belfast city centre.

The 130lb device, which was intended for the underground car park of a major shopping precinct, partially exploded while army bomb disposal experts attempted to disarm it.

Police said had the device fully exploded it would have been "catastrophic" for the city and Northern Ireland.

Later, a suspect bomber was engulfed in flames after a device exploded as he was about to plant it in a city centre store.

And during one of the busiest nights of the festive period another bomb partially exploded in the Cathedral Quarter area of the city causing widespread disruption.

In response police were forced to up security around the city and there was a return of Troubles-era security and vehicle checkpoints put in place on routes into Belfast and at entrances to shopping centre car parks.

Chief Constable Matt Baggott said dissidents were targeting the economy in a change of tactics and commended shoppers for supporting the city's trade.

However, he claimed international investment was being lost because of the attacks.

Security costs were defined as those unique costs incurred by the PSNI, over and above normal policing costs, as a direct result of the specific security situation in Northern Ireland now or in the past.

David Ford

Meanwhile, during the past year, Loyalists have taken to the streets to protest at Belfast council's change in its flag flying protocol at city hall with a number of the demonstrations erupting into violence.

And contentious Orange Order parades have increased the security burden on the PSNI.

Loyalists are continuing to protest over a Parades Commission ruling which prevented three lodges from marching past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast on the Twelfth last year.

Each night they hold a protest at police lines over the decision and a protest camp has been established at Twaddell Avenue.

Last December during one such protest, dissident republicans used military grade weapons to target police in the area.

At the time police branded the attack as "madness".

The number of public order units deployed for the ongoing nightly protests at Twaddell/Woodvale has also reduced over recent months, and therefore the cost of policing each event has steadily fallen.

David Ford

Justice Minister David Ford said the security bill was 32% - or just over £260m - of the PSNI's £790m annual budget spent on such incidents.

Mr Ford said: "This includes the costs of policing the terrorist threat and also the costs of policing public disorder and parading."

The cost of policing loyal order parades and protests alone during the last six months was just over £6m the Justice Department said.

Additional costs included police overtime use of PSNI helicopters, catering and vehicle fuel.

Earlier this month, UTV exclusively revealed that the police overtime bill cost £72m in 2013.

That was £20m more than that spent the previous year, due to a combination of the terrorist threat, civil disorder and the G8 summit attended by world leaders in Co Fermanagh.

Mr Ford added: "In recent months there has been a reduction in the number of flag protests and the number of those attending.

"It is hoped that these costs can be further scaled back in the weeks and months ahead."

The Police Federation, which represents officers on the front line, said overtime would be better spent on recruiting more officers.

The organisation said the force needed 1,000 more officers to cope with the security situation.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Ryan in An Dun wrote (339 days ago):
Is it any wonder when they make deals with flag protestors. Look at what is happening in Kiev at the minute. That kind of thing has been going on for years and not the same media coverage. Continuing to stand by and watch illegal parades when they go over their time limit and policing a caravan in Twaddell. Irish Travellers are moved on. Why not this caravan? Most places would learn from their mistakes but the PSNI continue to bow to the pressure of Loyalist extremists behind the flag protests. The Loyalist answer to these rising cost is "they took our fleg and we don't know where we are any more". The Lord Mayor for the WHOLE of Belfast is attacked when opening a park. How much PSNI security did Nelson McCausland need when opening a park in the falls? It's things like this that are making these communities look like a bunch of thugs. There is no problem in protesting but when protesting conditions are continually broken that's when it becomes a problem. What a waste of money. The dissidents are a big threat but have no support. Unlike the Loyalist rioters during July. They have plenty of support that excuse the violence that was perpetrated hiding behind what they call their fleg.
Larry in Belfast wrote (340 days ago):
So in reality it is not costing the public all this money, it is coming out of a pre arranged budget for the police. The money would be spent no matter what the reason!!! All this is political and media hype to increase the tension between the communities. When are both police and politicians going to start being straight and honest with the public? Stop playing with words!!
Equality in Belfast wrote (340 days ago):
Although the dissident Republican violence has taken a chunk the Republican Parades do only parade in their own areas and this does not cost anywhere near the amount that is for Orange Marchs that deliberatly go through Nationalist areas or the Twaddell Dole camp. So please refrain from costing those of us who pay the police. You would have just as nice a day if you would march in your own streets. And to the Dissidents we dont want war we want the Equality that talking has got us.
John in Newtownabbey wrote (340 days ago):
That sort of money would go a long way towards sorting out the RVH casualty department problem. Shame on the protesters if they feel a "fleg" is more important!
Susan in Ulster wrote (341 days ago):
Well Mr Ford just go see your friends in the PC and let the Orange men home . It has gone on far too long now and everyone with a bit of sense knows that when the brighter nights come the support for Twaddell will grow and that will double the policing bill . Sort it out and sort it out now ! instead of gurning about how much it is costing do something positive !!
Email address*:    
House Rules:  
Your Comment:  
[All comments are moderated and will not appear immediately. Your name, location and comment will be displayed on this page if your post passes moderation.]
January snow
Tue 13 January 2015
Wintry weather
Wed 28 January 2015
Ravenhill Road fish spill
Sun 25 January 2015