Belfast Telegraph

The loyalist parade that cost a ‘shocking’ £70,000 to police

By Adrian Rutherford

A contentious loyalist parade through a border village cost more than £70,000 to police, it has been revealed.

Over a dozen bands took part in the march through Newtownbutler in Co Fermanagh earlier this summer, despite opposition from residents in the mainly nationalist area.

The July event passed off peacefully after a huge security operation was put in place.

Now it has emerged that the cost to the PSNI was £73,000.

It was part of a £5.7m bill for policing parades and public disorder during this year’s marching season.

The bill, which includes PSNI resources, investigation costs and damage to equipment, was detailed during a meeting of the Policing Board yesterday.

It has led to criticism, with the SDLP describing the amount as “shocking”, while unionists branded it the cost of cultural intolerance. The biggest cost for a single parade was £766,000, which was spent on policing an Orange Order march near Ardoyne on July 12 and 13.

A further £301,000 went towards the security operation for the Apprentice Boys’ march through Londonderry on August 13, with the contentious Whiterock parade costing £233,000.

There was also a £154,000 bill for the Tour of the North parade in mid-June, while a contentious march through Rasharkin in North Antrim cost £65,000.

Members of the Policing Board's human rights and professional standards committee were briefed on the breakdown yesterday.

SDLP MLA Conall McDevitt, who chairs the committee, expressed concern at the bill.

“Given current pressures on the policing budget and the public purse, I have no doubt the wider community will share the concerns of board members on this issue,” he said.

Sinn Fein Policing Board member Gerry Kelly said dialogue was needed to tackle the parades issue.

“If everyone sits down round the table on an equal basis then these few contentious parades can be resolved,” he added.

DUP Policing Board representative Robin Newton said “cultural intolerance” displayed through opposition to some parades placed a huge cost on the public purse.

“The plain facts remain that the Orangemen and bands in Ardoyne did not cost the taxpayer over £760,000, it was the intolerance and bigotry of those who attacked the parade and continued to riot afterwards which imposed this cost,” he said.

The £5.7m bill covered the costs from April to August this year.

Factfile

June 17: Tour of the North — cost £154,000

June 25: Whiterock — cost £233,000

July 1: Mini Twelfth in East Belfast — cost £62,000

July 8: Newtownbutler — cost £73,000

July 12/13: Ardoyne — cost £766,000

August 13: Apprentice Boys in Londonderry — cost £301,000

August 19: Rasharkin — cost £65,000

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