Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Protest policing cost questioned

Orangemen during a stand-off with police on Woodvale Road, Belfast, close to the Ardoyne.

The cost of policing a long-standing protest at a north Belfast community interface is approaching £8 million, latest figures have indicated.

Violence flared in the unionist Woodvale area last summer when Orangemen were banned from parading past the adjacent nationalist Ardoyne on their way home from traditional 12th of July commemorations.

Rioting broke out on a number of subsequent days and loyalist demonstrators have maintained a continuous presence at a protest camp at the Woodvale/Ardoyne interface at Twaddell Avenue ever since.

The dispute has necessitated a major ongoing police presence.

A statement from Northern Ireland's Policing Board which oversees the police said: "At a time when Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) are facing a range of serious funding pressures, the cumulative costs of this policing operation are extremely concerning.

"In addition to financial costs there is also the very damaging impact of officers being removed from normal policing duties for public order roles."

The bill was confirmed by the board at £7.9 million for the last 224 days, equivalent to an average of £35,362 per day.

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