Outrage over bill for policing riots
The cost of policing riots which erupted across Northern Ireland over the summer has topped £1.6m, it can be revealed.
Several nights of serious disorder in Belfast, Londonderry and Portadown stretched PSNI resources and led to a huge bill for overtime and damage to equipment.
Nearly half the bill - some £720,000 - resulted from a single night's trouble in north Belfast on July 12. The figures were obtained by DUP Assembly Member Lord Morrow, who said he was shocked at the expenditure.
"It illustrates the amount of public money which is being poured into containing these thugs who make a continual habit of rioting," he said.
"They do so knowing that they will never have to pick up the pieces and also that when they are brought to court, they will get legal aid which seems to be all too readily available."
A breakdown of the costs shows the policing bill for the July 12 Ardoyne riots came to £719,733. Two nights of riots in east Belfast in June cost a further £306,480.
There was also serious disorder in Portadown and Derry which ran into thousands of pounds.
Lord Morrow called for tougher sentences to be handed out to rioters.
"There needs to be a tightening up of the system and how these thugs are dealt with," he added.
"There is little deterrent for these people, who will just return to their same old ways at the first opportunity."
Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay said the policing operations put in place in east Belfast, Ardoyne and Derry were vital in protecting communities.
"Violence puts people's lives at serious risk, damages local infrastructure, and sets back relationships," he said.
"Therefore, it is incumbent that everyone involved in parades, protests or difficult community issues starts talking at an early stage to find solutions which everyone can live with.
"Solutions that will ease tensions and ensure that Northern Ireland continues to move forward and doesn't hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons."
So far 147 arrests have been made and 113 people charged in connection with this summer's trouble.
- June 20/21, 2011, east Belfast: £306,480
- July 9, 2011, Ballyclare: £65,590
- July 12, 2011, Ardoyne and Crumlin Road: £719,733
- July 15/16, 2011, Corcrain Road, Portadown: £123,438
- August 13, 2011, Londonderry city centre: £340,115