Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 April 2015

G8: Barack Obama to urge Northern Ireland's politicians to step up pace of peace process

US president will deliver the pointed message that he regards it as incomplete and requiring greater effort

President Barack Obama is set to meet First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and urge them to consolidate gains by working harder on community relations.  (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
President Barack Obama is set to meet First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and urge them to consolidate gains by working harder on community relations. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Prime Minister David Cameron with Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson. Photo by Will Oliver/PA Wire
Protesters from Amnesty International dressed in orange jump suits and masks hold placards demanding that Barack Obama, closes Guantanamo, as they congregate outside the Waterfront, Belfast, ahead of the G8 summit. Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Protesters from Amnesty International dressed in orange jump suits and masks hold placards demanding that Barack Obama, closes Guantanamo, as they congregate outside the Waterfront, Belfast, ahead of the G8 summit. Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Wire
US President Barack Obama holds a baby at a Father's Day luncheon to celebrate the importance of strong families and mentorship in the State Dining Room of the White House. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
Anti G8 protesters set up camp in Enniskillen town centre. Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.
Police officers including members of the PSNI undergo riot training and the use of dogs at Longmoor Army Camp. Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
A woman walks past a derelict shop, its windows covered in giant posters to make it look like a deli store, in Fivemiletown, Northern Ireland. Organizers of the G8 have spent weeks sprucing up the facades of businesses all around the County Fermanagh venue. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Enniskillen Town Centre gets a face lift ahead of the G8. By John McVitty
A woman walks past a derelict shop, its windows covered in giant posters to make it look like a cafe, in Enniskillen. Organizers have spent weeks sprucing up the facades of businesses all around the County Fermanagh venue.(AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Temporary cell blocks which have been built at Omagh police station in Co Tyrone, which are being made available for G8 summit protests. By Paul Faith/PA Wire
Temporary cell blocks which have been built at Omagh police station in Co Tyrone, which are being made available for G8 summit protests. Paul Faith/PA Wire
Perspex on the windows at Belfast City Hall ahead of the G8 that will take place next week at Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Lough Erne Golf Resort of hotel manager Ferghal Purcell in one of the plush rooms that will host the world leaders. Cliff Donaldson/Lough Erne Golf Resort/PA Wire
Chefs at Fermanagh's Lough Erne Resort have been working on the G8 menus for four months. Local delicacies will include yellowman ice-cream with a dulse garnish, Toomebridge eels with a sweet red onion marmalade and, of course, the Ulster fry with black and white pudding.
Razor wire which has been laid in fields near the Lough Erne resort in County Fermanagh
Theresa Villiers MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, observes the final G8 security arrangements at the Lough Erne resort, with Chief Inspector Sue Ann Steen. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
Police man a checkpoint at the entrance to Lough Erne Hotel resort. Paul Faith/PA Wire
Divers check water features in fields near Lough Erne Hotel. Paul Faith/PA Wire
PSNI officers patroling on Lough Erne ahead of the G8 Summit. By John McVitty.
An anti-G8 mural unveiling at the back of Free Derry Corner. By John Black
The launch of the 'Big IF Belfast' concert at Botanic Gardens. The IF campaign will call on the world's most powerful leaders to ensure the eradication of world hunger is top of the agenda. Photo: Neil Harrison
The new banner unveiled for the G8 protest at Belfast City Hall organised by the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions
BBC journalist,Chris Buckler films a segment to promote Fermanagh on BBC Breakfast. Interviewing Lough Erne Resorts Head Chef, Noel McMeel and General Manager, Ferghal Purcell. Photo by Raymond Humphreys
Local artist Peter Meanley and the Ulster Museum's Curator of Applied Art Elise Taylor admire the eight bespoke Toby jugs of the G8 leaders. The jugs took 5 months to create and are currently on display at the Ulster Museum. Photographer Brian Thompson / presseye.com
A car makes its way along a security fence erected around the G8 venue
Police officers including members of the PSNI undergo riot training including the use of a water cannon at Longmoor Army Camp
Oxfam's 'Big Head' G8 leaders arrive in Northern Ireland
Oxfam's 'Big Head' G8 leaders arrive in Northern Ireland
Security in fields near the Lough Erne resort
A ring of steel is erected on the A46 Lough Shore Road in preparation
Police officers including members of the PSNI undergo riot training including the use of dog handlers at Longmoor Army Camp
A water Cannon leaves a security check point near the Lough Erne resort
Belfast's M2 and Oxford Street in the city centre will be shut at rush hour on Monday, June 17 for Barack Obama's welcome visit.
Toyoshige Sekiguchi, the anti-capitalist Buddhist monk who has walked from Belfast to Enniskillen to bring his campaign for nuclear disarmament to the G8 leaders
Armed police guard McDonalds, a previous target for G8 protestors as thousands protest in Belfast against the G8 summit. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
G8 protester Ziggy believes many protesters have been put off travelling to Northern Ireland
G8 protester Andrew Carnegie with his dog Grace
Armed PSNI officers alongside officers from police forces around the UK stand guard in the fields over looking the Lough Erne resort, Enniskillen. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
PSNI officers alongside officers from police forces around the UK stand guard in Enniskillen town. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
Armed police guard McDonalds, a previous target for G8 protestors as thousands protest in Belfast against the G8 summit. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
An anti-fracking boat pictured on Lough Erne. Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.
G8 protesters Darren Carnegie(left) and his father Andrew from Glasgow pictured in Enniskillen town centre. Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.
Police stand on a bridge over the River Erne near the location of the G8 summit on June 16, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The G8 group of world leaders will meet tomorrow in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
A police patrol boat passes under a police vehicle on a bridge over the River Erne near the location of the G8 summit on June 16, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The G8 group of world leaders will meet tomorrow in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
A police officer patrols near to the location of the G8 summit on June 16, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The G8 group of world leaders will meet tomorrow in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Barack Obama will urge Northern Ireland's politicians to quicken the pace of progress in the peace process when he arrives in Belfast on Monday.

He will use his visit to Northern Ireland for the G8 summit to urge locals to devote more effort to charting a course for a shared future for unionists and nationalists.

Tomorrow morning he will address a large audience of young people in Belfast before travelling to Fermanagh for the G8.

He is also to meet First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

He is expected to praise them and other political figures for their achievement in maintaining a cross-community administration. But he is also to urge them to consolidate gains by working harder on community relations.

President Obama's arrival in Belfast will take place following an almost eerie absence of disruptive protests against the G8. So far there has been no sign of protesters intent on causing trouble.

A march and rally in Belfast on Saturday, which was entirely peaceful, attracted only around 2,000 people who were monitored by a large fleet of armoured police vehicles.

Police say they believe many militant activists have been deterred by the fact that that some activists have chosen to go to Turkey rather than Northern Ireland. The authorities have made a deliberate point of emphasising how tight a security blanket has been put in place, with thousands of extra police drafted in.

One of many security signs in recent days has been the sight, and thunderous roar, of a fleet of eight enormous US military helicopters cruising in formation over Belfast and Fermanagh.

It will however come as a major surprise if no street protests occur during the two-day summit.

Barack Obama's speech, which has been closely coordinated with Downing Street, is seen as reinforcing David Cameron's arguments that more needs to be done to improve harmony and integration in Northern Ireland.

When the prime minister last week announced an economic package he made a call for the building of "a genuinely shared society."

Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness, who have often visited the US in recent years in an attempt to attract jobs and investment, will be keen to defend their record.

They will also be keen to make political use of the President's sentiments, arguing that more harmonious relations depend partly on economic improvement. They are well aware that President Obama is in a position to promote investment.

The US is already credited with playing a major role in the peace process, especially through the sustained interest of his predecessor Bill Clinton.

The American view is that although progress has been inspiring, the process requires to be consolidated, and this is an appropriate moment for all parties to rededicate themselves to healing past divisions and working towards a shared future.

In Washington an official spokesman has said that one of a number of ideas under consideration is the possible appointment of a special US envoy, saying the President will consult local politicians on this while in Belfast.

The official added that the US was looking at ways of supporting an investment conference to be held in October.

It is known that the US and other countries regard the peace process as one of the successes of conflict resolution during recent decades. At the same time disruptive marching confrontations, the flaring of street protests and the continuing existence of peacelines between Protestant and Catholic districts are viewed as constant reminders that division still run deep.

Local parties struggled for years to formulate an agreed strategy to address divisive issues. A document which was produced earlier this year was criticised as "low in ambition and weak in terms of detail."

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz