Belfast Telegraph

Policing costs top £3.6m during marching season

It cost over £2m to police parades over just four days in July.

And the total cost for policing over the three months of the marching season topped £3.6m.

Sinn Fein MLA Martina Anderson has now urged the Parades Commission to factor in financial constraints when making decisions on parading.

She branded the £3.6m price tag for policing parades and bonfires as an “indictment of the irrational Parades Commission determinations”.

The Policing Board member was speaking after the publication of a report to the board’s human rights and professional standards committee this week.

The report found that more than £2.2m was spent on policing parades over four days from July 11-14.

The Parades Commission responded by saying that its intervention had actually driven down policing costs and resulted in peaceful parades.

Ms Anderson said: “Figures presented to the committee are deeply disturbing, particularly in the context of our present economic situation when we are facing an onslaught on public services by the Tory/Lib Dem coalition. The costs of bonfires and policing parades are an indictment of the irrational Parades Commission determinations.

“One day’s cost around bonfires was £154,000, while the cost of policing parades on one day totalled £246,000 — but the largest expenditure was policing parades over July 11-14.

“These costs cannot be justified and, in the absence of the loyal orders’ willingness to engage wholeheartedly on the issue of contentious parades, it is irresponsible for the Parades Commission to put forward determinations that from experience it should know will only result in a pressurised and unacceptably expensive policing situation.” A spokesman for the Parades Commission responded that the body “actively promotes dialogue on contentious parades across Northern Ireland”.

He said: “The commission has to take decisions because those seeking to parade and those seeking to oppose such parades cannot reach an understanding on the issues.

“On many occasions the commission through its promotion and facilitation of dialogue has resulted in peaceful parades and in a reduction of the costs of associated policing. Agreed outcomes to local parading disputes remain our goal.”

The cost of policing parades in overall terms across Northern Ireland from April 1 to July 31 was £3,679,000.

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