WHO is going to pay for the damage, and who is going to pay compensation, following the breakdown in law and order resulting from the recent illegal protests and riots in Northern Ireland?
Unlike public representatives, whose salaries are paid to them by the taxpayer on a regular monthly basis, traders, shopkeepers, restaurateurs and hoteliers have initially to attract their customers, to pay for stock and staff, perhaps service a bank loan, and who also pay rates and taxes.
Theirs is a daily struggle to make a profit or merely to survive in the current recession.
Who is going to take responsibility, and to whom can those who have suffered loss and damage, turn to in this crisis?
The Stormont Executive has shown itself, through lack of effective leadership, to have been wanting in authority.
The PSNI is failing in its duty “to make Northern Ireland safer for everyone, to contribute to increasing public safety and bringing those to justice who break the law”.
Illegal road protests should have been nipped in the bud and prevented in the first week of December.
The Shadow Secretary of State, the Labour MP Vernon Coaker, has said: “This violence would not be acceptable in London, Cardiff or Edinburgh.”
The Northern Ireland Policing Board has the statutory obligation “for holding the Chief Constable to account for the effectiveness and efficiency of the PSNI.”
They should have told him weeks ago to enforce the law, or quit.
So we are left with the question, who is going to pay for all the loss and damage suffered?
Anyone who has suffered economic loss should consult a solicitor and, at the same time, contact all their MLAs, as well as their MP.
It is only in this way that a framework can immediately be set up, as was put in place after the English riots, to see that compensation is paid promptly.
Moreover, some formula should be devised for rates relief for those who have suffered.
A possible formula might be for a full rates rebate for the month of December, and also for a rates holiday, or substantial rates reduction for the first three months of this year.
Businesses also need positive assurances that there will be proper policing policies to deal immediately, and adequately, with any future illegal protests.
Simultaneously, the concerns of the protestors must be promptly and properly attended to.
Neil C Oliver,