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Major protest planned ahead of G8 meeting

A MAJOR public march and rally is to be held in Belfast the weekend before the G8 meeting of world leaders.

US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron will be among those attending June's summit in Co Fermanagh.

Trade unionists and campaign groups like Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth are organising a Fairer World Festival to coincide with the meeting.

The protest committee said: "Civil society organisations have come together to offer people an opportunity to challenge the policies and priorities of the G8 leaders who meet in Northern Ireland in June 2013.

"Our organisations represent many different interests but we are united in a commitment to the creation of a world that is fair and just for all.

"We believe that achieving social, economic and environmental justice must be central to political decision-making. We will co-ordinate a festival of events to coincide with the G8 summit, including a major public demonstration in Belfast calling for a fairer world."

The public march will be held in Belfast on Saturday June 15. A separate IF campaign event calling for equitable distribution of food will take place later the same day in Botanic Gardens.

The groups have also announced a Fairer World Festival of talks, debates, concerts, film screenings and exhibitions before and during the summit.

Mr Obama will visit Belfast before the G8 gathering at the luxury Lough Erne golf resort. He is expected to meet political and community leaders during a whistle-stop tour of the city, on his first visit to Northern Ireland.

Two years ago he travelled to the Republic for a state visit to Dublin and Moneygall in Co Offaly - the birthplace of the his great-great-great-grandfather.

There is speculation that his wife and children might return to Moneygall next month.

Mr Obama is among eight world leaders visiting Northern Ireland for the G8 conference on the outskirts of Enniskillen on June 17 and 18.

The White House has said: "The summit and related meetings will provide the president and his fellow world leaders an opportunity to address pressing economic, political and security challenges around the globe and to promote the advancement of trade and greater transparency among G8 members and the developing world."

An additional 3,600 police officers will be drafted in from forces across the UK to help the Police Service of Northern Ireland provide security for the two-day event.

Chief Constable Matt Baggott said he was expecting thousands of protesters.

The private security firm G4S - which failed to provide enough security guards during the Olympics - has also been awarded a contract for the G8. Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said that, despite concerns over the company's performance at the Olympics, the Foreign Office was confident G4S could deliver.

After the G8 Mr Obama will travel to Berlin for an official visit and meeting with Ms Merkel.

Details of Michelle Obama's travel will be announced at a later date.

PA Media