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Attacks by IRA in top 10 dearest

(Bimpe Fatogun, Irish News)

The devastating economic impact of the IRA's British bombing campaign has been revealed after a new international report placed four separate IRA explosions in the world's 10 most expensive attacks.

The 1993 IRA bombing of the NatWest Tower in London is second only to the September 11 attacks in the US in terms of financial damage.

It cost US$907 million of insured property loss, the OECD report estimates.

The report documents the "10 most costly terrorist attacks" between 1970 and 2001. Together with the bomb near a Manchester shopping centre in 1996, the 1992 strike at London's financial district and the Dockland's bomb of 1996, the campaign cost almost US$2,600 million.

This figure is still dwarfed by the 9/11 tragedy – the single day's carnage costing US$19,000 million in terms of property loss.

A leading Northern Ireland economist warned yesterday (Wednesday) that while places like London and New York have enough financial buoyancy to recover from such devastation, Northern Ireland continues to suffer from a "risk premium".

University of Ulster academic Mike Smith said the publication of such statistics were "like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted".

"Why didn't they come out with these type of statements when they were needed?" he asked.

"During their campaign the IRA chose these targets deliberately because they wanted to inflict financial damage.

"The risk premium in Northern Ireland remains the same. The risk of terrorism has left a dearth of investment.

"There has been no substantial investment since the terrorist ceasefires other than property investment where there is no risk."

Such a risk is not regarded in the same way in cities like London and New York, he said.

"Investment in London is decided for entirely different reasons. It is about its strategic location with the largest markets in the world," Mr Smith said.

However, report authors, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), warn that so-called rich countries do not have the insurance cover for such attacks.

It claims that future "mega-terrorism may result, in some countries, in losses exceeding the joint compensation capacity of insurance market and governments".

It urges governments to begin discussions about how to cope with such a disaster immediately.

Premiums in Great Britain have already doubled since the September 11 al-Quaida attacks in the US.

July 8, 2005

This article appeared first in the July 7, 2005 edition of the Irish News.

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