Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Calm returns to Fermanagh after G8 summit

David Cameron holds a press conference at the end of this year's G8 Summit on Lough Erne in Northern Ireland
David Cameron holds a press conference at the end of this year's G8 Summit on Lough Erne in Northern Ireland

It's been 12 years, but they still talk fondly around Enniskillen of the day former US President Bill Clinton came to town. In time to come, it will be well-worn tales of Obama and Putin recalled around the bars and kitchen tables in Fermanagh.

The county certainly isn't going to forget the two days it welcomed eight of the world's most powerful leaders to its beautiful lakeland.

Stories of Angela Merkel's midnight dash down Lough Erne on a boat and David Cameron's dip in its waters will become part of folklore.

The G8 may be over but the memories will linger for ever. In a practical sense, of course, life must go on.

The many hundreds of journalists and protesters who descended on Enniskillen over the last week have now left, so too the police.

A massive security operation had been in force over the past 10 days, but yesterday only a handful of local officers wandered the streets on a routine patrol. Lough Erne Resort remained in lockdown, but the huge security operation is slowly being scaled back.

Police cranes lifted away chunks of the metal fence wrapped around the venue, but the road is not due to fully reopen for another eight days.

Residents living within the secure zone are slowly returning to normality. Charlie and Linda Moore, who had 1,200 metres of road built on their farmland, said there would not be the same buzz. She said: "It is almost like the day after Christmas, all the fun is over."

While the visitors have gone, the locals are starting to return.

Fears of a G8 shutdown – which proved unfounded – caused many shoppers and residents to stay away.

The commuters' return meant it took longer to drive into town yesterday than the previous two days.

Despite some reports of a dip in trade, there was a quiet sense of satisfaction at how the G8 had gone.

The front page headline of the Fermanagh Herald summed up the mood, simply stating: 'Job done'.

"The consensus is that the management of the occasion was an unqualified success," it added.

Although the leaders have departed, G8 flags and signs still hang in the windows of some shops hoping to cash in on the summit.

A sign outside one paint shop tells customers how they can call their own home The White House by stocking up on emulsion. Martin Denanny, a pleasure boat owner, is hoping for a post-G8 boost.

"I think it can only be good in the long term," he said. "All the people I have spoken to are already looking at booking trips."

The last protesters left yesterday.

At Broadmeadow campsite, Andrew Carnegie and his son Darren were packing up their tent before returning to Glasgow. The pair – and dog Grace – came to Enniskillen to campaign against the G8.

"These last few days have changed my life," said Andrew, who is already planning to return to Fermanagh.

"The countryside is stunning, the architecture is amazing and I've met some of the best people I could ever hope to meet."

Pointing to a handful of other tents, he added: "Forget Cameron and Obama, these people here are the real G8. These people could change the world given the chance."

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