G8 summit will put Northern Ireland under security lockdown
Miles-long fence and roadside checkpoints among measures to protect world leaders
Belfast-born David McKittrick has been reporting on Northern Ireland since 1971, He has written for the East Antrim Times, the Irish Times and was The Independent's Irish correspondent for many years. He is the author of several books including Making Sense of the Troubles (2000) and Lost Lives (1999).
Sunday 19 May 2013
Parts of Northern Ireland are to be placed under effective lockdown during the upcoming G8 summit, with 3,600 officers being sent from Britain to bolster the police presence amid fears of widescale protests.
An extensive array of security measures is being put in place for the two-day event – including a giant new security fence which stretches for miles – with authorities warning of major disruption at the summit venue in rural County Fermanagh and in other parts of the country.
The battery of precautions will affect many facets of life, including the international airport, roads and schools. Vehicle checkpoints are to be reintroduced on a scale that has not been seen in Northern Ireland for many years.
In addition to the summit itself, US President Barack Obama is to visit Belfast for what the White House describes as an opportunity “to highlight the hard work, dialogue, and institutional development the people of Northern Ireland have undertaken together”.
The summit and the presidential side-trip will together require one of the biggest security operations ever seen in Northern Ireland. There will also be a cosmetic side to the exercise, with about £300,000 being spent on prettifying the facades of dilapidated and derelict buildings. Several companies have been hired to remove chewing gum from pavements.
South of the border, the justice minister, Alan Shatter, has warned that Irish mobile phone providers could be asked to cut their signals during the summit to ensure that republican dissident groups cannot use them to trigger bombs.
“It is possible that terrorist groups may try to use the occasion of the summit to, at the very least, garner publicity for themselves,” he said. “This is not to ignore the very real danger of the loss of life if such a device were successfully detonated.”
He said mobile phones may have been used to trigger the devices which exploded at the Boston Marathon in mid-April. North of the border, police have deliberately been stepping up visible security for some months, concentrating more officers in the area around the summit venue. A spokesman said: “There has been an incremental increase in the policing footprint. We have gradually increased that and it’s running at a higher tempo now.”
The approach of the authorities has been to advertise how extensive the security precautions are, in an attempt to emphasise to dissident republicans that any attempts to disrupt the proceedings would be pointless.
Police have estimated that many thousands of political protesters could be active. While the authorities have said lawful and peaceful protests will be allowed, hundreds of temporary holding cells are being prepared in prisons and former army barracks.
The new security fence will surround the Lough Erne hotel in Fermanagh where the summit will be held, with special marine units patrolling the local lakes and rivers which will provide a natural moat around the venue.
Some hospital medical procedures are being postponed , while construction work on many main roads across Northern Ireland is to be halted for more than a week.
With A-level and GCSE examinations due to be held at the same time as the summit, schools have been instructed by the Department of Education to prepare plans for any potential disruption. An official memo has warned that “exceptional circumstances may arise, at short notice, where schools will need to close.”
Meanwhile, houses in the vicinity of the summit hotel are being advertised for rents of about £3,000 a week. One is on offer for £12,000.
- 1 Rihanna 'nude photos' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 Frank Lampard equalises for Manchester City against Chelsea: how Twitter reacted
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned PR disaster
Rihanna 'nude photos' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
Jennifer Lawrence leaked 4Chan sex video branded 'fake' by forum users
Gabrielle Union contacts FBI over nude 4Chan pictures leaked by 'vultures'
Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked next, threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...
£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...
£38000 - £45000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...
£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...