British PM to host G8 summit in Fermanagh


David Cameron travelled to a forklift manufacturer in Craigavon, Co Armagh, yesterday to announce that the next G8 summit of world leaders will be held in Co Fermanagh.

Having the summit at the Lough Erne Hotel and golf resort on June 17th and 18th next year would be a “great moment for Northern Ireland”, the British prime minister told staff at Nacco Materials Handling, in the latest of his series of “PM Direct” speeches.

“I think this will be a brilliant advertisement for Northern Ireland,” he said. “I want the world to see just what a fantastic place Northern Ireland is – a great place for business, a great place for investment, a place with an incredibly educated and trained workforce ready to work for international businesses.”

Mr Cameron also said that before travelling to Craigavon, he had gone to Fermanagh yesterday to examine the hotel and amenities. “I also want to show the world, of course, what a beautiful place Northern Ireland is,” he added.

The G8 group consists of the United States, Britain, Russia, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Japan. This year’s G8 was hosted by President Barack Obama at Camp David but Russian leader Vladimir Putin did not attend.

Putin and Merkel

Mr Putin may turn up in Fermanagh to join Mr Cameron, Mr Obama and German chancellor Angela Merkel. The event will coincide with Ireland’s presidency of the European Union which could mean that Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore will have visiting rights.

Such summits draw huge protests from anti-globalisation and anti-austerity demonstrators. Providing security will be a major test for the PSNI and the leaders’ substantial personal protection teams.

The resort complex should prove suitable, however, as it has just one main entrance with a long drive to the hotel and is otherwise bounded by the lake.

The leaders will bring huge retinues as well as a large media contingent. The summit will mean big business for hotels in Fermanagh, Donegal, Tyrone, Cavan, Monaghan and Sligo.

The five-star resort is set on a 600-acre peninsula, has 59 rooms and 25 two- and three-bedroom lodges. It boasts a Nick Faldo-designed golf course where Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington have played. Mr Cameron joked that he hoped he would not “have any trouble keeping President Obama off the golf course”.

The resort is in administration, having been built for £35 million, and is on sale for about £10 million. Staging the G8 may improve sale prospects.

Mr Cameron met First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont yesterday. He gave no commitments on reducing corporation tax in Northern Ireland but said he would meet the two leaders again to discuss the matter.