Policing of flag protests has cost over £15m, says Baggott


The cost of policing the continuing union flag protests in Northern Ireland has soared to over £15 million (€17.5 million), the region’s chief constable has said.

Matt Baggott outlined the financial implications of the last nine weeks of public order policing as he briefed members of his oversight body, the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

Loyalists have been holding demonstrations since early December when Belfast City Council voted to limit the number of days the flag flies over City Hall. A number of the pickets have descended into serious rioting, with about 130 police officers injured. Mr Baggott was updating the board in Belfast at its first public meeting since the new year.

Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce said that the protests, which are damaging Belfast’s economy on the busiest day of the week, should be moved to Saturday mornings. The area should be clear by midday to allow afternoon shopping to proceed, city centre traders have said.