Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Protesters to march against G8

Anti-G8 protesters during a rally in Belfast city centre on Saturday

Police chiefs in Northern Ireland said they are expecting around 2,000 protesters to take part in an anti-G8 march in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, on Monday.

Figures were revised downwards after 1,500 anti-capitalists turned up for a rally which passed off without incident in Belfast centre on Saturday.

Alistair Finlay, Assistant Chief Constable with the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) said he was optimistic the two-day summit at the luxury Lough Erne resort could be peaceful. "We've seen protests in the last few days and that's what we wanted," he said. "We wanted people to protest peacefully to get their views across. We're hopeful that will continue as the leaders meet.

"We are ready for all the eventualities that we may be faced with our indications are now that this is hopefully going to be a very peaceful time."

The PSNI, backed up by 3,600 officers drafted in from England and Wales, has mounted a massive air, land and sea security operation costing in excess of £50 million. Over a 24-hour period up to 8,000 police officers will be on the ground.

Three recently purchased drones will also be deployed to keep and eye from the sky when the leaders of some of the world's leading economies gather. "These unmanned aerial units are used as resilience as part of the air frame unit. One thing for commanders is visibility and ability to move resources around. The eye in the sky is important," said Mr Finlay.

Judges have been put on standby to preside over special all-day court sittings and holding cells have been set aside at police stations in Belfast and Omagh, Co Tyrone. Extra Public Prosecution Service (PPS) lawyers and support staff will also be on duty.

So far only a handful of protesters have made the journey to Enniskillen where the local council has set up a makeshift camp. Mr Finlay said he believed events in Turkey had an impact.

He added: "There is quite a magnet in Turkey for a lot of people who would be strongly wanting to support a lot of issues, who might have through about coming here, but there are not as many people who have moved from the continent of Europe to the island of Ireland at present."

Meanwhile, PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott revealed more than 3,000 people had been involved in the planning for G8 security. "It is a huge privilege to have the leaders coming here. Our job is to make sure they can address world issues and showcase all that is good. This fantastic place is on a journey towards and even greater place. We've been involved in the most meticulous planning," he said.

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