NI to pay £20m of G8 bill (UTV)

The G8 summit has cost Northern Ireland double the expected amount, Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has revealed.

It was predicted that the Executive would shell out £10m for the event, hosted at Co Fermanagh‘s Lough Erne resort.

However, on Monday, Mr Wilson explained that out of a total £80m, the bill for the region comes to £20m.

Three quarters of that was spent on policing, with thousands of extra officers drafted in from Northern Ireland, and across the UK, to carry out the security operation.

“We must recognise that the G8 event has the potential to generate huge economic benefits for Northern Ireland,” the DUP minister said.

“That is why the event will be followed by an investment conference in the autumn. Of course, we will not know the full economic benefits for years to come.”

Only two arrests were made over the two-day summit, which saw eight of the world’s most powerful leaders gather in the five-star resort to discuss global issues.

Some of the cash spent on security was used to buy unmanned aerial drones, which the PSNI will now keep.

The huge streel barrier erected to create an exclusion zone cost more than £4m.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury said the UK government would foot the bill for most of the costs of policing the G8 during a visit to NI last month ahead of the event.

Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers later said the multi-million pound event was the most peaceful ever because of the extensive policing, thought to be one of the biggest security operations the UK has seen.

The UK Government picked up £60 million of the cost and the rest of the policing bill was paid for by the assembly’s Department of Justice.

Just over £5m was also spent on road improvements in Co Fermanagh as well as a publicity campaign to maximise the economic benefits from the event and money for ambulance and fire services.

The last G8 held in the UK was in Scotland in 2005, the Scottish government footed £60m of the total £90m to host the event.

“It is good value for money and don’t forget some of that money is for equipment that police will have for many years in the future,” Minister Wilson added.

“If you consider what Scotland had to pay when the G8 went to Scotland, we’ve got off relatively lightly.

“Of course you couldn’t have bought the publicity which we’ve got around G8 and we’re hoping to capitalise on that, some of the costs have been designed to capture some of the benefits of the G8, in terms of extra spend on tourism to promote Northern Ireland, investment conferences etc.

“So when you wrap it all together, I believe that it’s money that has been well invested and money which will pay the dividends for us a long time in the future.”


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