Amid all of the concern over the McCartney killing there are odd reminders that in some respects the disturbed conditions in which people have become accustomed to living with are beginning to settle. At least that’s how Unionist MLA Fred Cobain reads the drop in demand on emergency funding from people needing to leave their homes at a moment’s notice – a particularly widespread phenomenon throughout post Agreement Northern Ireland.
Just under £7 million was spent last year by the Government last year on relocating people under threat. Twelve months earlier, at the height of an alleged IRA spy scandal that caused the Stormont power-sharing administration to collapse, the bill stood at a staggering £43.7m as security force personnel demanded moves. Applications for the Special Purchase of Evacuated Dwellings (SPED) scheme fell from a high of 689 in 2002/03 when the espionage plot was uncovered, to around 120 in the last financial year.