G8 summit will put Northern Ireland under security lockdown

Miles-long fence and roadside checkpoints among measures to protect world leaders

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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Structural Engineer

£17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Structural Engineer ...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Development Manager - OTE £36,000

£22000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A New Business Manager role sui...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - Inbound & Outbound Calls

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This particular opportunity is ...

Recruitment Genius: Windows Server Engineer - Compute Engineer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Compute Engineer role also ...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor