Russians will turn Sligo into a home from home for G8
THE Russians are coming – to Sligo, but not President Putin.
The northwestern town is celebrating after a Russian delegation block-booked the Clarion Hotel in Sligo.
While the Americans will be using the Slieve Russell in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, and a number of Chinese staff have been booked into the Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan, Sligo and all her charms will be home to the large Russian entourage.
Vladimir Putin will stay with the rest of the world leaders at Lough Erne, but that didn't bother Sligomayor David Cawley who told the Irish Independent that there was "huge secrecy" surrounding the Russian visitors to his town.
"It appears they will be using the Clarion but not necessarily visiting Sligo when they are here," he said.
"However, we have put together 'welcome packs' for each of the Russian delegates as we do hope that some of them will be allowed out to see the town and the surrounding area."
There will be a 'significant' garda presence at all of the hotels being used by the various delegations. German, Japanese, Canadian, Italian and British government staff will all be based in hotels in Belfast.
But many hoteliers have been sworn to secrecy.
Hotel managers would only offer "no comment" to media queries yesterday.
But every hotel room for 30 miles around the Lough Erne Golf Resort has been booked out by either delegates or journalists.
"We have to cater for every eventuality, so security will be extremely tight at all the hotels," said one security source.
"We expect the vast majority of protesters will be peaceful but we also expect a militant minority and no chances are being taken with security for civil servants from the G8 countries staying at local hotels."
Security will also be stepped up around the 200 journalists from the G8 countries, who are being accommodated at Enniskillen's Killyhevlin Hotel.
A number of protest marches are planned both by trade unions and by People Before Profit.
The PSNI plans to coral protesters at the Lakeview Leisure Centre in the town.
Officers from both police forces will be stationed on each of the 24 larger islands on Lough Erne, backed up by speed boat patrols.
All boats on the lough have been searched and 'quarantined', with owners told that they cannot access them from this weekend.