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G8 business boost ... but only for gift shops and hair salons

FOR a town hoping to get an economic boost from the G8, Enniskillen was like a ghost town. Camera crews wandered aimlessly through the pretty streets of the Fermanagh town looking for another angle.

There were a few shoppers but even the police seemed to melt into the background as the summit at the Lough Erne Golf Resort came to an end.

There were some exceptions to the rule when it came to business – at the town's hairdressing salons and in the gift shops.

"We've been run off our feet for the past two days," said Karen Mitten, owner of the Fermanagh Cottage Industries craft and gift shop.

"We've had delegates in from all the G8 countries, but it's been mainly Russians and the Japanese. They've all wanted to take back a little piece of Ireland with them."

Little shamrock motifs, postcards and hand-made Irish jewellry were amongst the most popular items winging their way back to Tokyo, Moscow, Montreal and Washington.

Just around the corner facing the town's cenotaph, Helen McGovern was also busy at her HeadQuarters salon.

"We didn't expect to be that busy but we were," said Helen.

"Basically so many people were off work because of the G8, a lot of them decided to book a hair appointment so we didn't stop working over the two days."

The same couldn't be said however for the rest of the town after the biggest ever security operation in the North.

At Pat's Bar, Darragh McGovern said he hadn't seen lunchtime in the market town so quiet.


"None of our regulars are in. People have just stayed at home or left the town for a couple of days. We're seeing the odd journalist and the odd tourist but that's it," he said.

"It's been a bit of a disaster in the short-term, hopefully we'll see a benefit down the line."

Charles Moore and his wife Linda have been Ireland's most protected farmers for the past six weeks. Their 420 acres were all inside the security zone – and they had to get used to hundreds of police officers watching them as they worked.

"We got used to all the security," said 57-year-old Charles, "but it was a bit tighter in the last four or five days."

His wife Linda said the most interesting part of the few days was when a tractor tyre blew on a neighbouring farm sending an explosive bang reverberating around the Lough.

"That happened on Saturday and I think the police were a bit spooked for a while," she said.

"Apart from that it was remarkably uneventful."

At the tiny camp used by anti-G8 protesters in the grounds of the town's Lakeland Forum leisure centre, Andrew Carnegie, his son Darren and the family dog Grace were spending their last night.

"It's been an amazing experience," said 24-year-old Darren.

"The people of Fermanagh have been so welcoming. And I wish the police everywhere were like the police here.

"They actually talk to you and respect your view."

A PSNI officer on duty at the camp said: "It has been good. These guys (the protesters) wouldn't harm a fly. They are decent peace-loving people.

"To quote Van Morrison, 'I wish it could be like this all the time'."