Hopes Obama will cross Border as G8 heads North
EFFORTS will be made to entice US President Barack Obama back to the Republic next summer as he arrives in Fermanagh for the G8 summit.
The five-star Lough Erne resort close to the Border will become the centre of global attention after British Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed it will host the top-level conference.
An unprecedented security operation will be put in place to guard heads of state including Mr Obama, Russian leader Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Despite the huge costs of hosting a world-scale event, it is thought the economic spin-offs could top £100m (€125m) with the North reaping the benefits for years to come.
Intensive efforts will also be under way this side of the Border to woo world leaders including Mr Obama back to the Republic.
His visit in May last year put Ireland on the front page of newspapers worldwide and gave the country a much-needed PR boost.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said that while it's still too early to say if any of the world's leaders will be officially invited south of the Border, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has already reiterated his open invitation to Mr Obama.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore welcomed the announcement and said it "helps to underline the progress made on our island since the Good Friday Agreement".
Although Ireland is not a member of the G8 club, the Government will be participating in some sessions from June 17-18 because we hold the EU presidency next year.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny is expected to be invited, however, a spokesman said his attendance has yet to be confirmed.
The Lough Erne hotel itself will be rescued from administration by the event, which will showcase it to the world.
In Northern Ireland, unlike many other regions, there is not expected to be any great opposition to the event.
When it was last held in Britain, at the Scots golfing resort of Gleneagles in 2005, Sinn Fein took part in an alternative event. Mr Cameron vowed the gathering of world leaders would be a "great moment" following confirmation that Fermanagh will be the venue for the high-level conference.
"I want the world to see just what a fantastic place Northern Ireland is," Mr Cameron said.
He joked he may have trouble "keeping President Obama off the golf course".
Speaking at a factory near Craigavon, he said the announcement was good news for Northern Ireland, adding the summit would be a brilliant advertisement. "The world's leaders are going to be here next year debating the issues that are vital to the future of our world."