Fermanagh resort may be G8 venue next year

 

A luxury five-star hotel and golf resort in Co Fermanagh is emerging as a potential location for next year’s G8 summit of world leaders, senior official sources have intimated.

It is the British government’s turn in 2013 to host the gathering of the leaders of eight of the world’s major economies, and the Lough Erne hotel and golf resort is being seriously considered as the venue, it emerged yesterday.

Countries in the G8 group include the United States and Russia. Therefore, if Fermanagh is given the go-ahead, next summer could see US president Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin joining the British prime minister David Cameron on the shores of Lough Erne.

The other members are Germany, France, Japan, Canada and Italy. So also likely to be present would be Angela Merkel and François Hollande, Mario Monti and Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, and Yoshihiko Noda.

Summits tend to be busy affairs but Mr Obama and some of the other leaders might even take some time to play a round of golf on the course, which was designed by Nick Faldo. They would be following in the footsteps of Rory McIlroy and Pádraig Harrington, who played against each other three years ago, with the younger Holywood man winning on that occasion.

The possibility of the resort holding the G8 summit was first reported in yesterday’s Impartial Reporter, based in Enniskillen. There was no official confirmation yesterday but senior sources indicated it was being seriously considered.

Manager tight-lipped

Resort general manager Ferghal Purcell was playing a straight bat by making no comment yesterday.

“We can’t comment on any of our clients’ businesses, nor would you expect me to. Every hotel ensures the privacy of their clients comes first,” was all he would offer.

But could a resort with 59 rooms and 25 lodges be capable of catering for all the great world leaders, and the caravan of their official and security entourages and the international media – not to mention the anti-globalisation and anti-austerity and other local and international protesters?

The last G8 was held in May last year at Camp David, Mr Obama’s country retreat. The last time the British government hosted the event it was at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2005 – not dissimilar to the Lough Erne resort – when Tony Blair was prime minister.

Fermanagh man and former Ulster Unionist Party leader Tom Elliott reckoned the general area could cope with the media while the resort itself could manage the leaders, their officials and security people.

He wondered, though, if the talk of the Lough Erne resort was a ruse to put the world’s protesters off the scent of where it will be held. An exercise in official spinning, perhaps? “You just don’t know if this is a diversionary thing or not,” he said. “But if it is true it will certainly put Fermanagh on the map; it would be a huge boost,” added Mr Elliott.

While the resort is popular as a venue for weddings and other functions, it went into administration in May last year, just five years after it opened at the height of the Irish economic boom. It was at one stage valued at £30 million. The administrators would now take £10 million for the complex.

Lough Erne Resort

* Set on its own 600 acre peninsula

* 20 luxury rooms and suites

* Two golf courses, including Faldo Course