Belfast Telegraph

G8 protesters warn violent thugs to stay away from Belfast and Fermanagh demos

"We won't allow this demonstration to be hijacked" say trade unionists after London clashes

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Trade unionists who will protest against the G8 in Belfast and Fermanagh have warned violent anti-capitalist thugs not to hijack their demonstrations.

Activists from Unite, Britain's biggest union, and NIPSA, which represents thousands of public sector workers in Northern Ireland, said measures had been put in place to prevent demonstrations in Belfast and Fermanagh being hijacked by troublemakers.

The warning comes amid clashes in London on Tuesday, when hundreds of riot police were deployed to deal with protests against next week's summit.

"If you are intent on trouble do not come near our demonstration. We won't allow this demonstration to be hijacked," said Gary Mulcahy, a spokesman and co-ordinator for the G8 Not Welcome campaign.

Thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of Belfast for a protest organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) on Saturday.

Thousands more are expected to travel west for another rally against the G8 summit in Enniskillen on Monday.

Protesters will attempt to get as close to the world's eight most powerful leaders as possible by snaking their way on a pre-agreed route through the town towards a perimeter fence erected around the site of the luxurious Lough Erne resort. The protest is expected to last for up to four hours.

The trade unions have also accused the Government of scaremongering in an attempt to put people off joining protests.

Jimmy Kelly, Unite regional secretary, said an atmosphere of fear was being deliberately stirred up ahead of the conference.

"All the build up is designed to put people off with wall-to-wall police, back up and drones and everything you can think of.

"We are trying to cut through that intimidation climate to say you are entitled to protest, be proud to protest because our aims are just and we are a force for good. If you want to go out with your family and be part of the protest you are concerned that the security is going to go over the top."

Riot police tackle G8 demos in London

Hundreds of riot police were deployed throughout central London today as protests took place against next week's G8 summit.

A building was occupied by demonstrators in Soho and there was a stand-off between protesters and police in Piccadilly as officers blocked access to Fortnum & Mason.

The historic shop was targeted during protests against Government cuts in 2011.

Metropolitan Police teams were out in force in a bid to keep today's action under control and dramatically forced their way into the occupied building, a former police site, on Beak Street at lunchtime.

Television footage showed officers in climbing gear trying to secure the roof, bundling a protester who sprang on to the rooftop on to his front.

Around two dozen protesters gathered outside the BP headquarters in St James's Square amid a heavy police presence.

Police said there was intelligence to suggest paint bombs and shields could be used against horses and officers in Westminster and the City of London.

Powers to stop and search in anticipation of violence and to require the removal of disguises were authorised.

Scotland Yard also said that this morning officers were given a search warrant for a building in Beak Street where it was believed protesters might have weapons.

The force confirmed that no group tried to liaise with them about the demonstrations today.

The group StopG8 branded the action, held ahead of the two-day G8 summit in Northern Ireland next week, a "Carnival against Capitalism".

One activist, who gave his name as Phoenix, claimed police were obstructing the right to peacefully protest by trying to clear the building in Soho.

He said: "It's clearly undemocratic. This really smacks of restricting the right to peacefully protest. It's a long tradition in this country for people to get their point across. It's not dangerous, it's not violent. It's a peaceful protest."

By late afternoon, 32 people had been arrested for offences including possession of articles with intent to commit criminal damage, assault on police, criminal damage, possession of an offensive weapon and failing to remove a face covering.

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 conference next week.

US president Barack Obama is also due to visit parts of Belfast ahead of the summit.

Police protection of landmark sites across the city has been tightened in advance of the event.

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