Tensions rise as:
- UVF gunman replaces Best in loyalist heartland mural
Nationalist residents say: No more parades past St Patrick‘s
£100,000 an hour bill for policing Twelfth is revealed.
A NATIONALIST group has called for loyalist parades to be rerouted away from St Patrick’s Church in central Belfast. Carrick Hill Concerned Residents ‘ Group ‘ which had previously said it did not require rerouting, made the call after repeated breaches of Parades Commission determinations.
Last weekend Mass was interrupted when several bands taking part in a Royal Black Institution parade arrived back late and played The Sash outside. Parishioners said the priest could not be heard. The Donegal Steet route is used by numerous loyal order parades each year including the main Twelfth of July Belfast demonstration. In The Irish News today Frank Dempsey, a spokesman for the residents ‘ group, writes: “You cannot parade through nationalist areas and treat us residents and our church with contempt. “Therefore we are now calling on the Parades Commission to seriously consider rerouting these contentious parades away from our area and our church.” Tensions are also increasing within loyalism in east Belfast where a mural of football legend George Best, painted less than three years ago as part of a ‘reimaging’ programe, is being replaced with a painting of a masked UVF gunman. The painting at Inverwood Court was funded with European money as part of a regeneration project managed by Belfast City Council. Meanwhile, The Irish News has learned that policing the Twelfth of July this year cost £2.3 million – almost £100,000 per hour. The figure was an increase of £600,000 on last year. Half of the cost to taxpayers was made up of PSNI overtime, which was £1.1m for the single day.
‘The greatest cost of all is the social, political and economic caused by contentious parades – Alex Maskey.
Violence broke out in Belfast on the evening of the Twelfth demonstrations and contiued for several nights afterwards after the Parades Commission banned Orange Order members from walking past nationalist homes in Ardoyne. For the first time, PSNI officers were supported by hundreads of mutual aid officers from constabularies in England, Wales and Scotland. Officers came under fire from blast bombs, petrol bombs and other missiles. A total of 99 people were arrested, with 72 charged and 10 reportded to the Public Prosecution Service. However, while serious disorder continued for a number of days, the £2.3m figure is only for a one day policing operatin, on Friday, July 12. The figure is noticeably higher than the cost of the policing operation last year. The total cost of policing parades and associated public disorder on Thursday July 12 2012 into the early hours of Friday, July 13 was £1.7m. While half of this year’s £2.3m figure was made up of police overtime, it all includes the cost of mutual policing which was £534,000.
Just more than £545,000 was allocated to “other departments”, including finance and support services. Procurement and logistics cost £50,000, transport services cost £26,000 and part time district police officers cost £27,000. In addition, £51,000 was spent on duty police officers and £3,000 spent on other departments. DUP Policing Board member Jonathan Craig, who branded the Parades Commission, “a failed entity”, said the figure clearly showed that a “political solution must be found to the parading issue”. “I don’t think any of us will be at all surprised the cost has risen from last year, given the level and scale of violence that we have witnessed on the streets of Northern Ireland,” he said. Mr Craig described the decision to bring in mutual aid officers as a “strategic move” and said he intended to raise the issue at the next Policing Board meeting. “Is this the way to move forward with regard to reinforcing PSNI numbers or do they need to increase recruitment?” Sinn Fein assembly member Alex Mackey said his party believed that the true cost of policing July 12 this year was “more than the amount identified”. “There is an ongoing public expence araising from the policing operation of those who will not comply with the determination lof the Parades Commission I relation to the 12th July at Ardoyne,” he said. “However the greatest cost of all is the social, political and economic caused by contentious parades. “This cost is one which local communities affected, and our society as a whole can no longer be expected to pay.”
With many thanks to : Connla Young, Allison Morris and Marie Louise McCrory, The Irish News.
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