What is the cost of IRA terrorism to the UK economy? In strict monetary terms it adds up to a tidy sum, coming in last year at near £600 million (not including insurance claims). This arises from £206 million spent on extra soldiers to Ulster, the rough estimate of £350 million extra put into the local police force to contain terrorism, (comparisons with the Irish Republic suggest the northern police could, in normal conditions, operate on £200 million a year rather than £550 million.) and the £33 million the Government must pay in compensation claims to damaged Ulster businesses and individuals. Put against total UK government spending of £205 billion in 1991-92, the damage may seem minor - it costs only 0.3% of the Budget. For you and me it is a more hurtful £10 each a year. Most painful and ironic though, is how this sum, were it turned to peaceful uses in Ulster, could benefit the population. For instance, £600 million a year more pumped into Northern Ireland would double spending on schools or add half as much again to health and social services. Of course to measure the full cost of terrorism, one must also add in private insurance claims. No figure is available, but at an estimated £1 billion cost for the City of London bomb alone, the IRA's blow to the economy is considerable.
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