Warning on Cost of Policing; Riot Control May Hit Public Purse, Says NIO

Article excerpt

THE Northern Ireland Office warned last night that the cost of public disorder in the Province this year may have to be drawn from other areas of public spending.

However, it denied allegations by a prominent anti-Agreement unionist that almost pounds 40 million announced on Tuesday to pay for police overtime last year should have gone instead towards funding schools, roads and hospitals.

UK Unionist leader Robert McCartney accused the Government of short-changing its citizens in Northern Ireland by allocating pounds 39.5 million to policing, which now has a total budget of pounds 654.5 million for 2002/3.

Mr McCartney claimed the pounds 39.5 million had been taken out of the bloc grant from the Treasury for Northern Ireland and should have been spent on health, transport, agriculture and education.

The North Down MLA argued: "Jane Kennedy has taken pounds 39.5 million from the Northern Ireland bloc grant to give to the police and she shouldn't be able to do that. That is not bloc grant money. Security is the responsibility of Westminster.

"This is the clearest evidence as to why we have had such a hellish hole in buildings for schools, on the roads and in the deteriorating of the water and sewerage system. …