Crash course: The G8 summit

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

This year’s meeting of the Group of Eight – or the G8 – begins in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, on Monday. The summit draws the world’s most powerful leaders – as well as protests and disruption.

TIMELINE

FIRST MEETING

1975

Initially called the G6 (France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and the UK), it convened near Paris in response to the 1973 oil crisis

EXPANSION

1976

Canada joined, making this Puerto Rico summit the G7. PM James Callaghan defended the UK's economic performance after US criticism

GREEN GAS

1987

In Venice, the G7 began a trend of talking up environmental concerns without making commitments. First up, action on climate change

BIG THAW

1991

As the Cold War ended, John Major invited Mikhail Gorbachev to London as a guest of the G7

NOW WE ARE 8

1997

Russia joined; Boris Yeltsin was served an all-American dinner of Colorado Bison at the Denver summit

PROTESTS

2001

In Genoa, 200,000 anti-globalisation protestors descended, and many were beaten by heavy-handed police

AID BOOST

2005

Some 225,000 people gathered in Edinburgh for a Make Poverty History march. The G8 leaders boosted aid to poor countries by $50bn

ARRESTS

2006

Police arrested hundreds of activists before the St Petersburg meeting. Cherie Blair goaded the Kremlin by offering legal assistance

NEW ORDER

2009

There was a transfer of power from the G8 to the G20 after Obama said emerging nations India and China needed a greater say in global economy

This year's meeting of the Group of Eight – or the G8 – begins in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, on Monday. The summit draws the world's most powerful leaders – as well as protests and disruption

Profile: The host leader

Peter Robinson, the First Minister of Northern Ireland, sees the upcoming G8 summit in Enniskillen as a chance to "promote" his country "on the global stage". First, though, he'll have to ensure that inevitable protests in Fermanagh don't spill over into disorder.

The 64-year-old, renowned as a canny strategist, got into politics after a school friend was killed in an IRA bombing. In 1971, he was a founder member of the Democratic Unionist Party, and eight years later became an MP. After becoming party leader and First Minister in 2008, his wife Iris – also an MP at the time – branded homosexuality an "abomination".

Her husband defended her, saying "the Almighty" had declared it so. In 2010, he briefly stepped down after it was revealed that his wife had an affair with a 19-year-old man. Both she and Peter were cleared of wrongdoing over the awarding of £50,000 in secret loans to the teenager so he could open a café.

In his spare time, he keeps Koi carp, collects ties and likes golfing and bowling.

By Liam O'Brien

How to: Stand out from the crowd

It's tough when everyone's in a suit and you're, say, Stephen Harper (Canada, if you weren't sure) but the G8 has revealed subtle techniques for standing out on the world stage...

Bill turned diplomatic glad-handing into an artform with the much-copied Clinton shake. Fixed stare, square shoulders, firm grip and – crucially – a grasp of the elbow with your other hand. Perfect this and it doesn't matter what you say.

Imagine the weary newspaper picture editor scrolling through life-sapping photos of boring people like you. Now imagine the image in which the world's most powerful people are guffawing at YOUR joke. It won't even need to be that funny.

If the G8 is a school canteen with bigger bullies, you need to be on the right table. Make a beeline for Obama and Merkel, mouth words, nod enthusiastically, do something with your hands and hear those shutters click.

By Simon Usborne

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss