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Extortion fear leads to NI talks

NEWS

NORTHERN Ireland minister Paul Goggins has met construction employers in the province to discuss ways of tackling terrorist extortion on building sites.

Mr Goggins held meetings with the Construction Employers Federations following reports from MPs that contractors were having to pay between £450 and £750 a week in 'security' payments to terrorist groups.

The minister said in a debate last week: 'As far as we can see, there will be a £1 billion programme of public investment in construction in the years ahead in Northern Ireland.

'It is incumbent on us to ensure that it is absolutely free of extortion and of filtering-out of taxpayers' money to fund criminal activity.'

The Government is introducing 'construction contract monitors', independent bodies that will tackle fraud and oversee major procurement.