Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Anti-G8 protesters march to security cordon at Lough Erne as world leaders dine inside

G8 Protesters break through an outer fence during a protest near the G8  summit in Loch Erne, Enniskillen.  Paul Faith/PA Wire
G8 Protesters break through an outer fence during a protest near the G8 summit in Loch Erne, Enniskillen. Paul Faith/PA Wire
Anti G8 Demonstrators take to the streets of Enniskillen this evening.   PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Anti G8 Demonstrators take to the streets of Enniskillen this evening. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Niall Carson/PA Wire
G8 protestor Darren Carnegie poses by a mock missile brought into the camp at Broadmeadow, Enniskillen. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 17, 2013. See PA story POLITICS G8. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
G8 protestor Darren Carnegie poses by a mock missile brought into the camp at Broadmeadow, Enniskillen. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 17, 2013. See PA story POLITICS G8. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Hundreds of anti-G8 protesters marched to the summit site in Co Fermanagh on Monday evening, as the eight world leaders dined on Northern Irish delicacies inside the resort.

The parade and rally at the cordon around Lough Erne Golf Resort passed off without major incident, although at one point around 20 protesters briefly breached an outer wire fence in front of the main security wall, two miles from the hotel.

The episode did not result in a physical confrontation with police, with the demonstrators withdrawing through the barrier when issued with verbal warnings by officers. There were no arrests.

The vast majority of the activists, who marched three miles from Enniskillen town, were in good spirits as they voiced concerns on a range of issues as the G8 leaders met inside.

Police estimated that 700 people took part but organisers put the figure at around 2,000.

Eamonn McCann, of the People Before Profit campaign group, criticised the scale of the security operation around the resort as he addressed the crowds.

"We are not negative, it is they who are negative, it's them who have to have 7,000 armed personnel to defend them with a ring of steel. What a farce," he said.

Hundreds of police officers who lined the route, many drafted in from elsewhere in the UK, were confined to essentially a watching brief from a discreet distance.

The event was the second of two major protests planned in Northern Ireland to coincide with the G8.

With Saturday's rally in Belfast passing off peacefully, security chiefs will be relieved that contingency measures put in place to deal with potential troublemakers have not yet been called upon.

Around 260 additional police custody cells have been set aside and 16 judges have been on standby to preside over special courts in the event of disorder.

Protesters advocating a diverse range of causes and campaigns, local and global, took part.

Some voiced anger at proposals to bring the controversial fracking gas extraction method to Co Fermanagh, with others hitting out at the G8 leaders for their involvement in conflicts across the world. Many were simply making stand against capitalism.

Earlier, dozens of onlookers stood in shop fronts and at pub doors in Enniskillen town centre as the noisy spectacle passed by on its way toward Lough Erne.

Many demonstrators were keen to highlight their causes as they walked along.

Ciaran Morris, 48, was dressed in a Guantanamo Bay-style orange jump suit and clutched a Palestinian flag.

He said he was protesting against injustices like the treatment of the Palestinians as well as incarceration at the US military base on Cuba.

"All the forefathers of America would turn in their graves," the Fermanagh man said.

Peter Worth, who lives in Bundoran, Co Donegal, was demanding an end to fracking. He said the protest had given him confidence that many more people shared his concerns about the practice.

"You meet like-minded people and you realise you're not alone," he said. "It helps that there are people that are also against this wholesale destruction of the planet."

George Tzamouranis, 48, from Greece, who was brought up in Wimbledon, south-west London, but now lives in Belfast, said he turned out to express his anger at capitalism.

"I'm angry that capitalism is an unjust, unfair system," he said. "My sister is a stock market analyst and is immensely wealthy, yet I've been out of work for 25 years."

Mr Tzamouranis said he graduated with a degree in Oriental languages, has been unable to get a job with his education other than casual shift work and remains a victim of capitalism.

"I've been living on the ragged edge since 1991," he said. "Living in hostels, night shelters and now they have put me in a tiny one bedroom flat in Belfast. Capitalists are running down companies here, exploiting people in the East and turning us into the unemployed, marginalised, excluded."

Caoimhin O'Machail, 66, from Dungannon in Co Tyrone, said the decision to hold the summit in Northern Ireland was unforgivable.

"It is capitalism gone crazy," he said. "The money they are spending on it is obscene - why don't they throw them into the desert and let them get on with it?"

Frankie Dean, 50, from Ballinamallard, Co Fermanagh, said he wanted to speak up for gay and transgender people being persecuted in Russia and Northern Ireland.

"Obama and Cameron support equal marriage and have done a lot for the LGBT community," he said. "But Putin and the Russian people are doing bad things to LGBT people. I want to highlight that.

"Also while equal marriage is coming into the UK and other countries, it is not in Northern Ireland - and that is because of religious influences. I want those in government to come away from these influences and respect people's rights."

James Pellatt-Shand, 42, from Canterbury, said the turnout was lower than anticipated and blamed protesters being scared off from travelling to the area, but said he was delighted with the carnival atmosphere.

His main concern was global hunger and poverty, which he claimed could be easily solved with goodwill between rich nations.

"But I think they'll be more likely to discuss how many weapons to give Syria than how many children are going to bed hungry," he said.

He criticised big companies who avoid tax in developing countries, saying: "They are just stealing the food out of poor people's mouths."

Anti-austerity campaigners from Donegal wore giant sized heads of German chancellor Angela Merkel, Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, whom they accused of being her puppets.

Charlie McDyer said: "They are the instigators of austerity in Ireland. They have no consideration for anyone in this country apart from the elite."

Four human rights observers with the Committee for the Administration of Justice in Belfast were asked to observe the rally by Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

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