PSNI to bill Windsor Park Carl Frampton fight organisers for policing
THE PSNI is to bill the organisers of Saturday's big boxing event at Windsor Park for policing services.
Thousands of boxing fans descended on the Belfast stadium for the fight night which featured Carl Frampton, Paddy Barnes and Tyson Fury.
A PSNI spokeswoman confirmed the boxing event "did incur a monetary charge for the provision of special policing services" in line with its policies.
But police said the total policing costs would have to be requested through Freedom of Information laws.
In 2015 the PSNI published its policy on charging for operations deemed over and above core policing services, but there have been questions over its application.
A heavy police presence in 2016 at Barnes's professional boxing debut at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast over fears of a bloody Dublin gangland feud coming north cost almost £25,000 – but police abandoned plans to bill the event's organisers.
You don’t play boxing! Two perforated ear drums - left ear in round 3, right ear in round 6 and then the body shot in round 8. I wanted to finish the fight but I respect my coach and my team’s decision. I’ll live to fight another day pic.twitter.com/tBvPe9zzRo— Luke Jackson (@LukeJackson) August 21, 2018
Double Olympic medallist Barnes had signed a contract with the gym MGM, which had been linked to the notorious Kinahan family.
The Kinahans have been embroiled since 2015 in a feud with the Hutch family that has claimed multiple lives.
Police were said to have been tipped off that during the boxing event, gunmen could try to target Daniel Kinahan – believed to have been the intended target of an attack on a boxing weigh-in at Dublin's Regency Hotel in 2016 when another man was shot dead.
The PSNI had initially said the event's promoters would be billed for "special policing services", but later said it was "inappropriate" to seek costs after the policing plan changed due to "potential criminal activity outside the event".
MGM has since rebranded as MTK Global and distanced itself from the Kinahans. It represents numerous boxers including Belfast stars Frampton and Barnes.
The PSNI also faced criticism for waiving most of their bill for Frampton's world title fight in 2014, charging organisers just £5,000 out of a full cost of almost £36,000.
Police defended slashing its bill, saying the decision was in line with its policies.
The fight in Belfast's Titanic Quarter, which was organised by Barry McGuigan's Cyclone Promotions, also received £300,000 of public funding from Stormont and Belfast City Council.
Concerns had been raised over the funding after The Irish News revealed Peter Robinson's son was part of the team behind the event.
The then first minister rejected suggestions that he should have declared an interest over his son Gareth's involvement, and insisted he was not lobbied for funding by him.
Alliance's David Ford, who was justice minister at the time, claimed Mr Robinson should have declared an interest.
Mr Ford's concern's came after Mr Robinson had asked him about the PSNI's policy on charging for policing events like the Frampton fight.