Security for the recent visits by President Barack Obama and the Queen of England cost the Irish taxpayer a whopping $51million – and not the $30million initially outlined by the government.
Government Minister Alan Shatter has blamed the jump on the ‘political malcontents and thugs’ who tried to disrupt both visits last May.
Minister for Justice Shatter was forced to come clean on the actual security cost of the trips when he addressed the Irish parliament on Tuesday.
And even at that the $51million is still only an estimated figure as Shatter’s department count the full cost of hosting the two heads of state.
“The vast scale” of the security operation put in place by An Garda Síochána (police) to protect the Queen and the US president was commensurate with the very real security threats involved and the risk of enormous reputational damage to the country in the event of anything going wrong,” said Minister Shatter.
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“The cost involved in the operation was very significant and I am informed that the final figure is likely to be in the region of $51million.
“If we didn’t have a very small group of political malcontents and thugs who posed a threat at the time of these visits … if we didn’t have individuals of that nature the level of security required wouldn’t have been as high and the expense incurred by the taxpayer wouldn’t be as great.”
The first day of the Queen’s visit to Dublin was marred by three hours of riots near the Garden of Remembrance as the British monarch laid a wreath in honor of the leaders of Ireland’s 1916 rebellion.
Hoax bomb threats were also issued at various stages during the Queen’s tour.
“Some individuals engaged in subversion,” confirmed Minister Shatter.
Opposition deputy Dara Calleary of Fianna Fail expressed concern at the increase in the estimated cost while Independent deputy Finian McGrath said he was ‘absolutely astounded’ at the final figure.
Shatter also confirmed that the cost of the security operations had not been factored into his department’s estimates and would have to be addressed by the Government.
“The cost should be balanced against what will be substantial long-term benefits to the country,” concluded the Minister.