Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Security tightened ahead of summit

GENEVA - JUNE 2:  A couple kiss near a phalanx of German riot police June 2, 2003 in Geneva, Switzerland ahead of that year's G8 summit, the first since the war on Iraq. As the G8 comes to Lough Erne, Fermanagh next week, security is being significantly stepped up at sites around Northern Ireland as protests are expected to take place
GENEVA - JUNE 2: A couple kiss near a phalanx of German riot police June 2, 2003 in Geneva, Switzerland ahead of that year's G8 summit, the first since the war on Iraq. As the G8 comes to Lough Erne, Fermanagh next week, security is being significantly stepped up at sites around Northern Ireland as protests are expected to take place

Police protection of landmark sites across Belfast has been tightened in advance of the G8 conference in Northern Ireland.

Some of the properties including the Parliament Buildings at Stormont will have round-the-clock guards.

Thousands of PSNI officers backed up by 3,600 specially trained public order police from England and Wales will be patrolling the streets to deter hard-line anti capitalist anarchists and dissident republicans from launching an attack.

"We are protecting the iconic sites from those extreme anarchist elements who may come to Belfast to try to seek to de-stabilise the G8 event and the same time protect iconic sites from any dissident republicans," said PSNI Superintendent Alan McCrum, who is in charge of the Belfast policing operation.

Banks, building societies and key business like the Waterfront Hall, the £90 million Titanic centre and political hubs such as Belfast City Hall will also have increased security.

The threat from dissident republican terrorists who have been waging a campaign of violence against the security forces in Northern Ireland was reclassified by the Home Office as severe. It is feared some elements may seize the opportunity presented by the G8 to gain global publicity.

"Clearly because there is an increased number of police officers deployed across the city this week that heightens our concerns," added Mr McCrum.

The leaders of the world's eight wealthiest countries including Russian president Vladimir Putin and German chancellor Angela Merkel are due to meet at the luxury Lough Erne resort in Co Fermanagh for the two-day conference next week. US president Barack Obama is to visit parts of Belfast ahead of the summit.

Estimates for the numbers of protesters in Belfast have been revised from 40,000 to around 10,000. Police have also played down the likelihood of violence and said they have adopted a relaxed attitude towards a rally by the Irish Congress for Trade Unions (ICTU) and family day organised by the IF (Enough Food For Everyone) Campaign in Belfast on Saturday.

Mr McCrum said: "At this point in time there is nothing to suggest to us there is going to be any particular difficulties or challenges in the city. We are content to facilitate lawful, peaceful protest but we will deal with any individuals or groups who would seek to infiltrate lawful protest to damage property or create public disorder."

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