The parade and rally at the cordon around Lough Erne Golf Resort passed off without major incident, although at one point around 20 protesters briefly breached an outer wire fence in front of the main security wall, two miles from the hotel.
The episode did not result in a physical confrontation with police, with the demonstrators withdrawing through the barrier when issued with verbal warnings by officers. There were no arrests.
The vast majority of the activists, who marched three miles from Enniskillen town, were in good spirits as they voiced concerns on a range of issues as the G8 leaders met inside.
Police estimated that 700 people took part but organisers put the figure at around 2,000.
Eamonn McCann, of the People Before Profit campaign group, criticised the scale of the security operation around the resort as he addressed the crowds.
“We are not negative, it is they who are negative, it’s them who have to have 7,000 armed personnel to defend them with a ring of steel. What a farce,” he said.
Hundreds of police officers who lined the route, many drafted in from elsewhere in the UK, were confined to essentially a watching brief from a discreet distance.
The event was the second of two major protests planned in Northern Ireland to coincide with the G8.
With Saturday’s rally in Belfast passing off peacefully, security chiefs will be relieved that contingency measures put in place to deal with potential troublemakers have not yet been called upon.
Around 260 additional police custody cells have been set aside and 16 judges have been on standby to preside over special courts in the event of disorder.
Protesters advocating a diverse range of causes and campaigns, local and global, took part.
Some voiced anger at proposals to bring the controversial fracking gas extraction method to Co Fermanagh, with others hitting out at the G8 leaders for their involvement in conflicts across the world. Many were simply making stand against capitalism.
Earlier, dozens of onlookers stood in shop fronts and at pub doors in Enniskillen town centre as the noisy spectacle passed by on its way toward Lough Erne.
Many demonstrators were keen to highlight their causes as they walked along.
Ciaran Morris, 48, was dressed in a Guantanamo Bay-style orange jump suit and clutched a Palestinian flag.
He said he was protesting against injustices like the treatment of the Palestinians as well as incarceration at the US military base on Cuba.
“All the forefathers of America would turn in their graves,” the Fermanagh man said.
Peter Worth, who lives in Bundoran, Co Donegal, was demanding an end to fracking. He said the protest had given him confidence that many more people shared his concerns about the practice.
“You meet like-minded people and you realise you’re not alone,” he said. “It helps that there are people that are also against this wholesale destruction of the planet.”
George Tzamouranis, 48, from Greece, who was brought up in Wimbledon, south-west London, but now lives in Belfast, said he turned out to express his anger at capitalism.
“I’m angry that capitalism is an unjust, unfair system,” he said. “My sister is a stock market analyst and is immensely wealthy, yet I’ve been out of work for 25 years.”
Mr Tzamouranis said he graduated with a degree in Oriental languages, has been unable to get a job with his education other than casual shift work and remains a victim of capitalism.
“I’ve been living on the ragged edge since 1991,” he said. “Living in hostels, night shelters and now they have put me in a tiny one bedroom flat in Belfast. Capitalists are running down companies here, exploiting people in the East and turning us into the unemployed, marginalised, excluded.”
Caoimhin O’Machail, 66, from Dungannon in Co Tyrone, said the decision to hold the summit in Northern Ireland was unforgivable.
“It is capitalism gone crazy,” he said. “The money they are spending on it is obscene – why don’t they throw them into the desert and let them get on with it?”
Frankie Dean, 50, from Ballinamallard, Co Fermanagh, said he wanted to speak up for gay and transgender people being persecuted in Russia and Northern Ireland.
“Also while equal marriage is coming into the UK and other countries, it is not in Northern Ireland – and that is because of religious influences. I want those in government to come away from these influences and respect people’s rights.”
James Pellatt-Shand, 42, from Canterbury, said the turnout was lower than anticipated and blamed protesters being scared off from travelling to the area, but said he was delighted with the carnival atmosphere.
His main concern was global hunger and poverty, which he claimed could be easily solved with goodwill between rich nations.
“But I think they’ll be more likely to discuss how many weapons to give Syria than how many children are going to bed hungry,” he said.
He criticised big companies who avoid tax in developing countries, saying: “They are just stealing the food out of poor people’s mouths.”
Anti-austerity campaigners from Donegal wore giant sized heads of German chancellor Angela Merkel, Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, whom they accused of being her puppets.
Charlie McDyer said: “They are the instigators of austerity in Ireland. They have no consideration for anyone in this country apart from the elite.”
Four human rights observers with the Committee for the Administration of Justice in Belfast were asked to observe the rally by Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
NOW that Northern Ireland is more peaceful place, it’s encouraging to see it being picked to host the laste G8 bunfight. The great and good (and look out for Mr G9 Bono in attendance) will mass at the Lough Erne Hotel resort in Co Fermanagh:
The Resort is the ultimate expression in old world heritage and new world luxury, set on its very own 600 acre peninsula, between Castle Hume Lough and Lower Lough Erne, just outside Enniskillen, with stunning panoramic views from almost every vantage point.
Unless you look to the right and see the barbed wire, armed uniformed goons and balaclava enthusiasts…
PS – When we’ve got them locked up inside, can we leave them there?
Issue date: Tuesday June 11, 2013. The police have diverted extra investigators, translators and forensic medical officers to the two custody sites at a former military barracks in Omagh and Musgrave Street station in Belfast to ensure cases are brought to court as quickly as possible. See PA story ULSTER G8 Courts. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire
Divers check water features in fields near Lough Erne Hotel resort in Co Fermanagh, venue for next weeks G8 summit
Razor wire is laid in fields near Lough Erne Hotel resort in Co Fermanagh, venue for next weeks G8 summit.
A Water cannon at the main checkpoint and security fence near Lough Erne Hotel resort in Co Fermanagh, venue for next weeks G8 summit.
Sign on the security fence near Lough Erne Hotel resort in Co Fermanagh, venue for next weeks G8 summit.
Police man a checkpoint at the entrance to Lough Erne Hotel resort in Co Fermanagh, venue for next weeks G8 summit.
A Water Cannon passing miles of fencing erected around Lough Erne Hotel resort in Co Fermanagh, venue for next weeks G8 summit.
Razor wire is laid in fields near Lough Erne Hotel resort in Co Fermanagh, venue for next weeks G8 summit.
Main checkpoint and security fence near Lough Erne Hotel resort in Co Fermanagh, venue for next weeks G8 summit.
Plans have also been drawn up for special courts and extra detention cells at locations in the republic, including counties Donegal and Monaghan, should disorder break out.
And despite UK authorities revealing the cost of the operation to its public purse, Irish taxpayers have been told they will have to wait until afterwards for details of the policing bill.
Garda Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny, who is in charge of the border counties, said the force is in close contact with security services in a number of countries as well as international agencies Interpol and Europol.
Daily intelligence briefings are being held on both home-grown and overseas threats.
“For an event of this magnitude, the what-ifs list is endless,” he said.
So, in so far as we can, plans will take account of worst case and best case scenarios
Garda Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny
Asst Commissioner Kenny said there are contingency plans to respond to a “mix” of threats, which includes the risk of local dissident republicans using the occasion for global publicity.
But the Garda chief said they had no estimate of numbers of protesters expected into the country at this stage. A large protest is expected in Dublin.
Surveillance of ports and airports across the republic and the movement of people throughout the island will form a major part of the security operation.
Eight temporary border checkpoints are to be manned by Garda units backed up by the Irish Army, alongside rolling checkpoints by mobile patrols.
Asst Commissioner Kenny warned people living along the border and others travelling across it to expect disruption in the run up to and during the summit.
The Garda has also been working with the Courts Service about the possibility of special sittings and custody arrangements, should public disorder break out or in the event of an attack.
Another 3,600 officers from forces around the UK will be drafted in for what is expected to be the biggest ever carried operation carried out by the PSNI.
As part of the huge security operation around the high profile event, a seven-mile stretch of Lough Erne is being closed down completely across three days while the Loughshore Road, Enniskillen, is closed until 26 June.
Authorities in the UK have already revealed they expect the event to cost around £50m.
Asst Commissioner Kenny said the Garda was still in the latter stages of planning and final costs, overseen by the Department of Justice and other Government departments, are not available for taxpayers in the Irish Republic.
“It is a fluid, moving plan. The finer detail of the plan is only coming to light in the latter stages of it, because the countries are voicing their requirements now.”
The Garda chief said the force would give a detailed account of costs after the event.
“Our spending and costs are being challenged on an ongoing basis,” he said.
Activists from Unite, Britain’s biggest union, and NIPSA, which represents thousands of public sector workers in Northern Ireland, said measures had been put in place to prevent demonstrations in Belfast and Fermanagh being hijacked by troublemakers.
“If you are intent on trouble do not come near our demonstration. We won’t allow this demonstration to be hijacked,” said Gary Mulcahy, a spokesman and co-ordinator for the G8 Not Welcome campaign.
Thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of Belfast for a protest organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) on Saturday.
Protesters will attempt to get as close to the world’s eight most powerful leaders as possible by snaking their way on a pre-agreed route through the town towards a perimeter fence erected around the site of the luxurious Lough Erne resort. The protest is expected to last for up to four hours.
The trade unions have also accused the Government of scaremongering in an attempt to put people off joining protests.
Jimmy Kelly, Unite regional secretary, said an atmosphere of fear was being deliberately stirred up ahead of the conference.
“All the build up is designed to put people off with wall-to-wall police, back up and drones and everything you can think of.
“We are trying to cut through that intimidation climate to say you are entitled to protest, be proud to protest because our aims are just and we are a force for good. If you want to go out with your family and be part of the protest you are concerned that the security is going to go over the top.”
Mr Baggott said Northern Ireland was a “safe place to work and live”.
He said he would be doing everything to ensure “it was the most successful G8 summit in history”.
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said it would be one of the biggest policing operations ever in Northern Ireland, with mutual aid from Great Britain and 600 private security staff from G4S and others.
Chief constable Matt Baggott has said an extra 3,600 police officers are being brought in
It will be the first time the annual summit has been held in the United Kingdom since it was at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2005.
Mr Baggott said protesters would not get within sight of the world leaders and that they would have the space to get on with their “important work”.
“Military will be providing assistance to the police during G8,” he added.
He said he had received “huge support” from police in Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland and Canada.
PSNI assistant chief constable Alastair Finlay said it was possible some G8 leaders would visit other parts of Northern Ireland but nothing had been requested yet.
A luxury five-star hotel and golf resort in Co Fermanagh is emerging as a potential location for next year’s G8 summit of world leaders, senior official sources have intimated.
It is the British government’s turn in 2013 to host the gathering of the leaders of eight of the world’s major economies, and the Lough Erne hotel and golf resort is being seriously considered as the venue, it emerged yesterday.
Countries in the G8 group include the United States and Russia. Therefore, if Fermanagh is given the go-ahead, next summer could see US president Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin joining the British prime minister David Cameron on the shores of Lough Erne.
The other members are Germany, France, Japan, Canada and Italy. So also likely to be present would be Angela Merkel and François Hollande, Mario Monti and Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, and Yoshihiko Noda.
Summits tend to be busy affairs but Mr Obama and some of the other leaders might even take some time to play a round of golf on the course, which was designed by Nick Faldo. They would be following in the footsteps of Rory McIlroy and Pádraig Harrington, who played against each other three years ago, with the younger Holywood man winning on that occasion.
The possibility of the resort holding the G8 summit was first reported in yesterday’s Impartial Reporter, based in Enniskillen. There was no official confirmation yesterday but senior sources indicated it was being seriously considered.
Resort general manager Ferghal Purcell was playing a straight bat by making no comment yesterday.
“We can’t comment on any of our clients’ businesses, nor would you expect me to. Every hotel ensures the privacy of their clients comes first,” was all he would offer.
But could a resort with 59 rooms and 25 lodges be capable of catering for all the great world leaders, and the caravan of their official and security entourages and the international media – not to mention the anti-globalisation and anti-austerity and other local and international protesters?
The last G8 was held in May last year at Camp David, Mr Obama’s country retreat. The last time the British government hosted the event it was at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2005 – not dissimilar to the Lough Erne resort – when Tony Blair was prime minister.
Fermanagh man and former Ulster Unionist Party leader Tom Elliott reckoned the general area could cope with the media while the resort itself could manage the leaders, their officials and security people.
He wondered, though, if the talk of the Lough Erne resort was a ruse to put the world’s protesters off the scent of where it will be held. An exercise in official spinning, perhaps? “You just don’t know if this is a diversionary thing or not,” he said. “But if it is true it will certainly put Fermanagh on the map; it would be a huge boost,” added Mr Elliott.
While the resort is popular as a venue for weddings and other functions, it went into administration in May last year, just five years after it opened at the height of the Irish economic boom. It was at one stage valued at £30 million. The administrators would now take £10 million for the complex.
Lough Erne Resort�
* Set on its own 600 acre peninsula
* 20 luxury rooms and suites
* Two golf courses, including Faldo Course