Saturday 16 December 2017

G8: Police outnumber protesters in Enniskillen

Police officers gather next to armoured land rovers in Enniskillen, in Northern Ireland. REUTERS/Andrew Winning
Police officers gather next to armoured land rovers in Enniskillen, in Northern Ireland. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Police far outnumbered protesters in Enniskillen today as the Co Fermanagh town geared up for the G8 summit.

Security was tight with patrols in the air, on the water and roadsides while just six people and a dog had set up at a makeshift camp for protesters.

There was a relaxed atmosphere at the Broad Meadow on the banks of the Erne where campaigners chatted openly with police who had brought them cups of coffee in the morning.

By lunchtime today just four tents had been erected on the playing fields which had been made available by Fermanagh District Council.

Anti-capitalist campaigner Ziggy believes many protesters have been put off travelling to Northern Ireland after he and others were evicted on Wednesday from a former police station off Regent Street, London, which was the headquarters of the anti G8 campaign.

"I have invited lots and lots of people, but a lot of people are put off by the heavy policing in London," he said.

"They were very shaken by what happened."

The 43-year-old, from Suffolk, said he was not expecting a campsite to be made available by the local council, and had been surprised by the welcome.

"We thought we would be in ditches," he said.

"People can come and visit us here at the camp and we can get our message out. Some people are against the militarisation of the police.

"I think the Third World is never discussed or brought to the table at the G8.

"A lot of people feel G8 leaders sit at a walnut desk, far removed from the buttons they push," he added.

Andrew Carnegie, 43, from Blackhill, Glasgow was also at the camp with his son, Darren and pet dog Grace who accompanied him to Gleneagles in 2005.

"How can you sit in a luxury hotel and talk about poverty and world hunger - you need to camp somewhere like this and exhaust yourself as a protest. That is worthiness," he added.

He arrived in Northern Ireland on Thursday but has been disappointed with the number of campaigners who had made it to Enniskillen.

"I am a bit gutted," added Mr Carnegie.

A ring of steel has been erected around the Lough Erne resort, which will host the world leaders tomorrow.

Police in Land Rover type vehicles were mounted on every motorway bridge between Belfast and Enniskillen.

Boiler suit-clad officers were also scouring ditches and roads along the route.

In Enniskillen, most of the shops are closed and few tourists in the area.

Coffee shop owner Jenny Farrell said the G8 was bad for business.

She said: "It is scaremongering people out of the town. People are not coming into Enniskillen because they are afraid to come in. The locals are just staying out of town. It has not been good for business, definitely not."

Visitors Ken and Patricia Oddie from Aberdeenshire, Scotland, said they holiday in the area every year and had never seen Enniskillen so quiet.

"It is really quiet. We are disappointed that the shops are all closed," said Mrs Oddie.

Her husband said the security seems a little over the top.

"But you are damned if you do and damned if you don't," he added.

Gaelic football bosses said the security operation had not impacted on a Championship quarter final clash being held in Enniskillen this afternoon.

Just under 10,000 people attended the game between Fermanagh and Cavan at Brewster Park.

Ulster GAA president Martin McAviney said: "The event ran to plan and as a result of good organisation we were able to facilitate a match crowd with minimal disruption."


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