G8 summit: President Obama to urge politicians to quicken pace of progress in peace process as Northern Ireland braces for protests

 

President Obama will tomorrow urge Northern Ireland politicians to quicken the pace of progress in the peace process, delivering the pointed message that he regards it as incomplete and requiring greater effort.

He will use his visit to Northern Ireland for the G8 summit to urge locals to devote more effort to charting a course for a shared future for unionists and nationalists.

Tomorrow morning he will address a large audience of young people in Belfast before travelling to Fermanagh for the G8. He is also to meet unionist First Minister Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, the Sinn Fein deputy First Minister.

He is expected to praise them and other political figures for their achievement in maintaining a cross-community administration. But he is also to urge them to consolidate gains by working harder on community relations.

President Obama's arrival in Belfast will take place following an almost eerie absence of disruptive protests against the G8. So far there has been no sign of protesters intent on causing trouble.

A march and rally in Belfast on Saturday, which was entirely peaceful, attracted only around 2,000 people who were monitored by a large fleet of armoured police vehicles.

Police say they believe many militant activists have been deterred by the fact that that some activists have chosen to go to Turkey rather than Northern Ireland. The authorities have made a deliberate point of emphasising how tight a security blanket has been put in place, with thousands of extra police drafted in.

One of many security signs in recent days has been the sight, and thunderous roar, of a fleet of eight enormous US military helicopters cruising in formation over Belfast and Fermanagh.

It will however come as a major surprise if no street protests occur during the two-day summit.

Barack Obama's speech, which has been closely coordinated with Downing Street, is seen as reinforcing David Cameron's arguments that more needs to be done to improve harmony and integration in Northern Ireland.

When the prime minister last week announced an economic package he made a call for the building of "a genuinely shared society."

Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness, who have often visited the US in recent years in an attempt to attract jobs and investment, will be keen to defend their record.

They will also be keen to make political use of the President's sentiments, arguing that more harmonious relations depend partly on economic improvement. They are well aware that President Obama is in a position to promote investment.

The US is already credited with playing a major role in the peace process, especially through the sustained interest of his predecessor Bill Clinton.

The American view is that although progress has been inspiring, the process requires to be consolidated, and this is an appropriate moment for all parties to rededicate themselves to healing past divisions and working towards a shared future.

In Washington an official spokesman has said that one of a number of ideas under consideration is the possible appointment of a special US envoy, saying the President will consult local politicians on this while in Belfast.

The official added that the US was looking at ways of supporting an investment conference to be held in October.

It is known that the US and other countries regard the peace process as one of the successes of conflict resolution during recent decades. At the same time disruptive marching confrontations, the flaring of street protests and the continuing existence of peacelines between Protestant and Catholic districts are viewed as constant reminders that division still run deep.

Local parties struggled for years to formulate an agreed strategy to address divisive issues. A document which was produced earlier this year was criticised as "low in ambition and weak in terms of detail."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones