Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Northern Ireland gets a spring clean for arrival of G8 leaders

Luxury stay: The lakeside Lough Erne Hotel and golf resort
Luxury stay: The lakeside Lough Erne Hotel and golf resort

Giant chess games, smooth roads and a memorial bridge. It's all in store for Enniskillen.

With just three months to go until the Fermanagh town hosts the leaders of the world's eight richest countries, a frenzied programme of preparations is under way. Sprawling roadworks have been rolled out across Enniskillen and its hinterland in a bid to transform the country roads before June 17.

A pre-Christmas funding gift of £250,000 to tidy up Enniskillen's main square has been swiftly followed by a boost from the Department of Environment.

Nearly 150 properties across Fermanagh are being spruced up with the £380,000 package – which will see street facades across Fermanagh power-washed, painted and spruced up. The G8 will be hosted at Lough Erne Hotel and golf resort near Enniskillen.

But surrounding hotels are also enjoying the spin-off.

Enniskillen Hotel, which just opened in December, has got what could well be its largest ever booking. The 35-bedroom hotel is set to be booked out for 10 days in June by delegates from an undisclosed G8 country.

The plush facility will close to the public to facilitate a communication centre for the delegates.

Dale Ebbitt, the hotel's manager, said: "We are thinking of doing a 'G8 hangover' offer afterwards, to show locals that this was a one-off and we are open to business again. We have had no crazy requests yet (but) we may well get them," he added.

Joe Kelly, chairman of Enniskillen Business Partnership, outlined a busy programme of street entertainment already lined up for June. "We're developing music events for Enniskillen at the minute," he said.

"We are investing in street games like giant chess games and a massive dunk tank."

Alison Brimstone, a local councillor, added: "We've asked about the possibility of a legacy bridge to remember the G8 being here."

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