569 PSNI officers police Easter Rising republican parade in north Belfast

The North Belfast Easter Rising 2016 Commemorative Committee parade passes protesters at Carlisle Circus in Belfast amid a heavy police presence. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Gareth McKeown

A REPUBLICAN parade in north Belfast commemorating the Easter Rising cost an estimated £70,000 to police, new figures have revealed.

The Irish News has learned that there were almost 600 PSNI officers were on duty on Sunday, September 25, 2016 to police the Easter Rising Centenary Committee parade.

Three bands and around 300 participants took part in the parade from Ardoyne Avenue to Stanhope Street in the New Lodge - a distance of roughly 1.4 miles.

A counter-protest was staged by a group calling itself 'End the Glorification of Terrorism' .

The cost of policing the parade was finally released last week following a Freedom of Information request which was made on September 29, 2016.

It confirmed that 569 officers were required to police the parade, but was unable to say how many police vehicles were used in the operation.

Pictures taken at the parade clearly showed a large number of both armoured and unarmoured vehicles in the vicinity.

Police however said they were unable to provide a total cost for policing the parade, stating the "PSNI does not hold the information in the format requested" and adding that they were "not obliged to create information for the purpose of a request".

"PSNI in general would not hold total costs as this would involve collating information which would include other associated costs such as fuel, vehicles, etc," they said.

Using calculations from what police call a 'weighted average time cost including Employers National Insurance' it is estimated that £72,127 was paid out in costs, including overtime.

A total of £40,815 went to the Operation Support Department of the PSNI, which includes the Armed Response Unit, Close Protection Unit and Security Branch.

Almost £20,000 went to officers based in Belfast, with just over £9,000 split between the 'North' and 'South' areas and £2,195 went to the Crime Operations Department, the largest department within the PSNI, comprising specialist officers and staff.

Last year the Irish News revealed how more than a tenth of the entire PSNI force was deployed to police a small republican parade in north Belfast in 2015.

A total of 774 officers policed the Henry Joy McCracken commemoration parade – resulting in a £182,000 overtime bill.

Last year just over 500 officers policed the August 28 parade, which passed off peacefully amid the heavy police presence and restrictions imposed by the Parades Commission.

PSNI figures from September 2016 state the total number of officers policing the north as 6,857.

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