A Freedom of Information request (submitted to the PSNI by the Sentinel on October 1), revealed that 36,305 was spent providing police cover for the visit which lasted just a few hours. The cost was met from the PSNI budget, which comes directly from the taxpayers’ purse.
Asked if the PSNI had a contingency budget for such visits, a spokesperson responded: “No, the PSNI do not have a contingency budget for this type of visit”.
Although the PSNI declined to reveal how many police officers were on duty that day, or how many were taken off regular duties to police the visit, they did reveal that 20 officers were required to work overtime in order to provide adequate cover for the visit.
Reasons of prejudice to future security and protection arrangements, the risk posed by terrorists or criminals in carrying out an attack, increasing the risk to individuals, members of the public and officers, increasing the vulnerability of those in receipt of PSNI protection and the police officers providing the protection were cited as reasons for not disclosing how many police were deployed or taken off regular duties to police the visit.
“The lives of individuals are of paramount importance and the PSNI will not divulge any information which could put any individual at risk,” a spokesperson said, adding: “The safety of individuals and officers must take precedence over public interest.”
It was the former President’s first trip to the Province in six years, and during his brief stop at the Magee Campus of the University of Ulster, Mr Clinton made a speech on how to build economic prosperity. His visit was in advance of a Washington summit on the Northern Ireland economy, which was hosted by his wife Hillary, the US Secretary of State. The summit, on October 19, aimed to encourage American business leaders to invest in Northern Ireland.