Security examined ahead of this summer’s G8 summit
SECURITY preparations at the Northern Ireland hotel that will host this summer's G8 summit have been assessed first-hand by ministers from Westminster and Stormont.
The visit to the Lough Erne Resort in Co Fermanagh by Northern Ireland Office minister Mike Penning and the region's Justice Minister David Ford comes days after a 60kg bomb was found in an abandoned car in the lakeland county.
As well as the continuing threat posed by dissident republicans opposed to the peace process, police will also have to contend with potential challenges from radical anti-capitalist protesters when the world's most powerful leaders gather at the hotel in June.
The two ministers were briefed by a team of senior officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) on the security issues facing them.
They were given a tour of the resort by the hotel manager Ferghal Purcell and also met representatives from Fermanagh District Council.
After the discussions, Mr Penning said: "I am delighted to be in this beautiful part of Northern Ireland today, and can see for myself exactly why the Prime Minister has chosen Lough Erne to host the G8 summit.
"This will provide an inspirational setting for world leaders to discuss ambitious solutions to global problems "During our visit today, David and I have been impressed by the excellent work that is being undertaken by the PSNI and local organisations.
"This is designed to ensure that Fermanagh, and Northern Ireland as a whole, gets the best from the G8 summit, including encouraging inward investment and showcasing NI as a first rate place to visit and in which to do business."
The minister said he was confident that the PSNI were well equipped and prepared to ensure the 2013 summit was "peaceful and safe".
"The PSNI are doing an absolutely fantastic job, and I know that the local people of Fermanagh will continue to provide them with the support they need in the coming few months," he said.
"That local engagement is vital, and will show to the world that Northern Ireland is embracing this opportunity to host such an important global conference. In turn we hope the summit will provide residents with a positive and memorable experience, as well as enjoying the lasting benefits it will bring to the area."
During the tour, the ministers took to the lake around the venue on a police boat.
Mr Ford said: "Preparations are well under way on the many strands that will come together to make the G8 summit a success.
"I have received regular updates on the security arrangements and this visit was a good opportunity to hear first-hand about the scale of the necessary operation. For the G8 summit, the PSNI will be supported by officers and equipment from other police services, some of whom will have experience of similar events.
"This summit will attract the world's key political leaders. With them will come intense media attention. This is a tremendous opportunity for Northern Ireland to showcase all that is good about life here, from our renowned beautiful countryside to warm hospitality in every county."