Belfast Telegraph

Vows on G8 'ring of steel' costs

It could be months before the final cost of the G8 is determined, it has been revealed.

Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has promised the Government will cover most of the expense of putting a ring of steel around the Northern Ireland conference venue but some already planned expenditure by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) will not be reimbursed.

The leaders of the world's eight wealthiest countries will descend upon the luxury Lough Erne golf resort in Co Fermanagh for a two-day economy meeting with thousands of police, army and private security officers present and special courts and prison cells prepared in case planned protests turn violent.

Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford said: "I cannot give forecasts of what the overall costs will be because there are sufficiently many undetermined factors which will not be determined until significantly after the conference is over.

"A sum of money will fall to the PSNI and hence to the Department of Justice related to expenditure which would already have been in train, for example a variety of capital programmes which have been accelerated slightly to enable the policing operation to function well during the G8 conference."

Sixteen judges have been put on rota to preside over potential all-day special court sittings to deal with arrested protesters, authorities have revealed.

Extra magistrates are on stand-by if the eight courts dedicated to G8-related disorder charges - located at three sites across Northern Ireland - are unable to cope with the volume of cases coming before them.

The criminal justice planning will also see additional Public Prosecution Service (PSS) lawyers and support staff on duty at the courts and at two specialist police custody facilities, which have a combined capacity of 260, in Omagh, Co Tyrone and Belfast.

With next week's meeting of the world's most powerful political leaders being held at Lough Erne Golf Resort, authorities expect nearby Enniskillen and Belfast to attract most protesters.

The PPS, Police Service of Northern Ireland, and the NI Courts and Tribunals Service have been holding regular meetings since January to devise a strategy to deal with a potential influx of criminal cases.

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