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Olympic 'shambles' security firm G4S given contract for Fermanagh G8 summit

Claire Cromie

G4S - the firm behind the Olympic security fiasco - has been selected to support the Police Service of Northern Ireland at the G8 Summit next month.

Despite the company's botched handling of the Olympics Games contract last summer, G4S has been chosen to supply 450 security staff for the event at Lough Erne, County Fermanagh.

The leaders of the world's eight wealthiest countries are expected in Fermanagh on June 17 and 18.

An extra 3,600 police officers will be flown into Northern Ireland to support the PSNI and Chief Constable Matt Baggott has said he will do everything to ensure "it was the most successful G8 summit in history".

The military was forced to step in to provide security at the London 2012 Olympics when G4S failed to provide all 10,400 guards needed for the Games.

The fiasco left the company nursing losses of £88 million on the contract and its chief executive fighting for his job. Nick Buckles was hauled before MPs, where he admitted it the Olympics failure was a "humiliating shambles for the company''.

G4S said its staff will provide stewarding, monitoring of site perimeters and securing access to venues.

The company has previously provided support to a number of international summits on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, including the 2005 G8 Summit in Gleneagles and the G20 Summit in London.

Eric Alexander, managing director of G4S Events, said: "We are delighted to have been awarded this contract and be given the opportunity to use our proven expertise to help the PSNI secure this extremely high profile event."

Commenting on G4S's contract win, Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers said lessons had been learned and claimed that the UK Foreign Office was confident the firm could deliver.

"The G8 is considerably less than the numbers that were required for the mammoth operation at the Olympics," she added.

Ms Villiers declined to divulge how many extra troops would be deployed to Co Fermanagh for the two-day summit next month but said military assistance would be used to back up the police.

"At the request of the PSNI and in line with standard military aid to civil authority, yes the military will be providing assistance to the PSNI as is normal with events of this scale," said Ms Villiers.

Army helicopters will be used to fly world leaders and their entourages to and from the event outside Enniskillen.

However, the Secretary of State refused to be drawn on further details of the Army's role.

Meanwhile, Matt Baggott said he expected thousands of protesters to descend on Northern Ireland during the G8 Summit.

"We are expecting demonstrations in Belfast and we are expecting some in Enniskillen as well. I would anticipate thousands. There are many routes into Northern Ireland," he said.

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