Peter Robinson pushes for ring fencing of anti-terror money
First Minister Peter Robinson has said he will seek to ring fence Northern Ireland's security budget in light of the raising of the level of threat posed to Britain from dissident republicans to ‘substantial'.
Mr Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness are due to meet the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in an attempt to minimise the expected slashing of the province's allocation in the forthcoming budget.
And Mr Robinson told The Sunday World it was vital that sufficient funds were set aside to safeguard Northern Ireland from potential terrorist atrocities.
“It is crucial that enough resources are made available to combat the threat,” he said.
“It is one of the issues we will raise with him because there should be no impediment to us being able to deal with the threat of terrorism and we want to make sure that the resources are there so that the police can do the job.”
The DUP leader claimed small pockets of dissidents were using the threat of an attack in Britain in order to bring themselves under the national spotlight.
“You have this group who clearly recognise that an incident in Great Britain will get significantly more media coverage than it would if it was occurring in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“It's about press coverage. They know they're not going to advance their cause by it. It's just some micro groups wanting to advance their PR.”
On Friday, Home Secretary Theresa May said she had been told by Jonathan Evans, Director General of MI5, that there was a need to raise the threat level.
Mrs May said: “The director-general of the security service has informed me that he has raised the threat to Great Britain from Irish-related terrorism from moderate to substantial, meaning that an attack is a strong possibility.”
Mr McGuinness told yesterday’s Sunday World the meeting of the Northern Ireland delegation with the chancellor had been arranged a number of weeks ago.
“The notion that this meeting will focus on the speculative remarks of the British Home Secretary yesterday at a time when, like most other government agencies, MI5 will be interested in securing their own budget, is incorrect,” he said.
Mr McGuinness said the meeting would centre on protecting frontline services in Northern Ireland as well as vulnerable members of society and those within disadvantaged communities.