State of affairs at Lough Erne
Attending the summit in June will be (left to right): Barack Obama, David Cameron, Enda Kenny, Angela Merkel, François Hollande and Valdimir Putin
World leaders are expected in Fermanagh in June, where an Irish welcome awaits them at Lough Erne Resort, writes Rosita Boland
I have slept in Barack Obama’s bed. Tiny correction: I have slept in a bed at the Lough Erne Resort, in Co Fermanagh, that Obama may possibly be sleeping in during the G8 Summit in June. He’s definitely sleeping in one of the beds there, so I like to think he’ll be allocated the lake-view room 112, which was the one I occupied last weekend.
The five-star Lough Erne Resort will host the G8 Summit on June 17th and 18th, when heads of state will gather to have Very Important Talks about the world economy. Joining Obama will be Enda Kenny, Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, François Hollande, David Cameron – as well as the Canadian, Japanese and Italian leaders, and representatives from the European Union.
It’s either ironic or apt that these world leaders will be staying at a resort that is a textbook example of the downturn in the international economy. The Lough Erne was developed at a cost of €35 million and opened in 2007. There are two golf courses – one designed by Nick Faldo – two clubhouses, two golf villages containing 66 houses in total, 25 lodges and a 59-bedroom hotel.
The complex has since gone into administration, and last autumn offers were being sought in the region of €12.4 million. “But it’s off the market for the time being,” its avuncular general manager, Ferghal Purcell, stresses. He hopes the international attention focused on the resort, and on Fermanagh, in June will help find a buyer.
Purcell is sitting chatting in the Gordon Wilson Library in the hotel; the resort is only a few kilometres from Enniskillen. The resort is located on a small peninsula that juts out into lakes, so from a security perspective, it’s presumably easier to manage in terms of access, although the swans on the lake may be meeting a lot of Secret Service frogmen in the near future.
The site has its own helipads, which is presumably how the heads of state will arrive. Most things are “presumably” at this stage, as Purcell is being drip-fed information about the logistics by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which is handing the summit. “I went to Gleneagles to talk to them about their experience of hosting the G8, and they said there’s only one premise, and it’s that everything keeps changing all the time.” Purcell doesn’t even know yet how many are due. “We do know the Americans will have a huge delegation.”