'Time the Twaddell camp went away' - Ford

Published Monday, 19 May 2014
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Justice Minister David Ford has called for an end to a loyalist protest in north Belfast as he revealed the cost of policing the Twaddell camp has reached £9m.

'Time the Twaddell camp went away' - Ford
Protestors camped out in caravans at Twaddell. (© Pacemaker)

Speaking in the assembly on Monday, Mr Ford said the bill caused him "significant concern" when the Police Service of Northern Ireland's resources were already being stretched.

The demonstration on the Woodvale Road has been ongoing since last July when the Parades Commission banned Orangemen and bands from walking past the Ardoyne area on their return Twelfth of July route.

Mr Ford previously revealed the cost of policing the Twaddell protest had reached £5.45m by the end of December last year.

He told MLAs on Monday that about a third of the £9m figure represented the "opportunity cost" of being unable to divert police resources elsewhere and that as a consequence fewer arrests had been made in relation to crimes across the region.

"It certainly is something that causes me significant concern that an issue which should not be continuing to cost should cost such a huge amount of money at a time of decreasing resources and we have significant pressures on the police and indeed on other parts of the justice system," Mr Ford said.

It really is time that the Twaddell camp went away and people accepted the determination of the Parades Commission and ceased putting pressure on the police service and allowed them to do the job they should be doing for every part of Northern Ireland.

Justice Minister David Ford

The Alliance leader revealed the latest figure after a question from Sinn Féin MLA Bronwyn McGahan.

SDLP MLA Alban Maginness said the money could have been spent rejuvenating the Ardoyne and Woodvale communities.

"Such a monumental waste of money could easily be set aside if people were to sit down on a neighbourly basis and talk neighbour to neighbour in order to settle this contentious parading dispute," he said.

Mr Ford agreed and highlighted the loyal orders and nationalist residents in Londonderry as an example of where good relations were working.

No unionist MLAs commented during the assembly questions on the Twaddell costs.

© UTV News
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42 Comments
John in Newtownabbey wrote (119 days ago):
No need to walk the swagger shuffle home. They can get a taxi surely?
Duckey in Belfast wrote (120 days ago):
Disgusting! Surely yhis camp is illegal and should have been removed a long time ago! At a time when our hospitals are struggling to provide a good service due to lack of funds, it is disgusting to hear how much money has been wasted on an issue that the majority of Northern Ireland couldn't care less about! Who actually runs this country and why are we being held ransom by mindless bigots?!
eamonn in belfast wrote (121 days ago):
The Orange Order and unionist/loyalist politicians have been making this farcical demand to let the marchers home from last July.So technically they are still at Twaddell Avenue.They can hardly apply then to march on 12th July from Ballysillan down the Crumlin Road past Ardoyne shops if they are still at their camp. Just a thought.
Ryan in An Dun wrote (121 days ago):
If it had of been travelers, they would have been moved on a long time ago.
Taxi Paul in Belfast wrote (122 days ago):
How much does it cost to protect the Alliance partys' East Belfast office every night? Using the same logic is it time that the Alliance party shut it?
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BRIAN ROWAN
The voice above the crowd didn't come from within that increasingly tense and angry political arena.
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