Belfast Telegraph

G8 protesters urged to keep peace

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has urged anti G8 protesters to maintain peace on the streets next week.

He warned hardline anarchists intent on causing mayhem to stay away from legitimate demonstrations being held in Belfast and Enniskillen.

"I think all the people who come here from other parts of the world need to be very conscious that they are coming to a place that is no longer at conflict, to a country at peace. I would like them to respect our peace when they come. We certainly respect their right to come and articulate their views around issues that I feel equally strongly about such as world conflict, hunger, poverty, unfair taxation," he said.

A stark warning was also issued to dissident republicans who may seek to exploit the opportunity presented by the G8 to gain global publicity.

Mr McGuinness added: "I also say to people who are from here who might think that this is an opportunity to exploit (it) for their own interests, I believe they would be making a huge mistake because they run the very great risk of being confronted by peaceful protesters who want absolutely nothing to do with any violence or conflict on the streets."

Round-the-clock protection has been put on landmark properties across Belfast as the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) ramps up security measures ahead of the G8 summit on Monday and Tuesday.

A ring of steel has been erected around the luxurious Lough Erne complex where world leaders including US president Barack Obama, Russian president Vladimir Putin and German chancellor Angela Merkel will meet. Roads in the area have been closed to traffic and vehicle check points have been set up close to the remote resort.

On Saturday, thousands of anti capitalist protesters are expected to take to the streets of Belfast to show their opposition to the G8 during a trade union rally.

Thousands more are expected to travel west to Enniskillen for another protest organised by Unite, the UK's biggest trade union and NIPSA which represents thousands of public sector workers in Northern Ireland on Monday night. Marchers will snake their way through the Co Fermanagh town towards the huge security fence which encircles the five-star hotel.

Shops, restaurants and multi-national banks are expected to shut or board up their fronts to protect premises if violence flares. Plastic sheeting has already been placed over stained glass windows at Belfast City Hall where marchers will converge on Saturday. Queen's University has said it plans to close all of its buildings over the extended weekend amid fears they could be targeted by militants. An additional 3,600 police officers have been drafted in from across the UK to provide back up for the 7,500 PSNI patrolling the streets.

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