Politicians say advertising value of G8 summit for Northern Ireland could not be bought

Robinson and McGuinness say summit will benefit North despite high cost

British prime minister David Cameron and US president Barack Obama at the G8 summit at Lough Erne in Enniskillen yesterday. “I think all of the G8 leaders commented on how remarkable it was to hold this G8 here and what a powerful message it sent and what it meant to them,” said Mr Cameron. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

British prime minister David Cameron and US president Barack Obama at the G8 summit at Lough Erne in Enniskillen yesterday. “I think all of the G8 leaders commented on how remarkable it was to hold this G8 here and what a powerful message it sent and what it meant to them,” said Mr Cameron. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Wed, Jun 19, 2013, 10:42

The G8 in Fermanagh allowed the world to see a Northern Ireland that was open for business and determined to be defined by a shared future, British prime minister David Cameron asserted at the conclusion of the summit.

Mr Cameron, who went for a swim in Lough Erne yesterday, and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness also said the free advertising generated for the North by the summit could not be bought.

Enniskillen bombing
As Northern politicians tried to balance the value of holding the summit in the North against its multimillion pound cost, Mr Cameron reflected on the Enniskillen bombing 25 years ago that killed 11 people.

He said it would have been “unimaginable” then that such a conference could be held in the North.

“Today the world has seen a new Northern Ireland that is not only beautiful, as you can see from the wonderful scene behind me, but a Northern Ireland that is open for business, a Northern Ireland that is bringing down the peace walls that have separated its people for so long, a Northern Ireland determined to be defined by a shared future, not by a divided past,” he told journalists.

“It is a transformation that I believe can be an inspiration to the world. I think all of the G8 leaders commented on how remarkable it was to hold this G8 here and what a powerful message it sent and what it meant to them.”

Mr Cameron said G8 leaders should be motivated by the success of the peace process in the North. “This transformation was made possible by the courage and determination of so many people across all sections of the community.”

It is estimated the cost of security for the summit will be at least £50 million. While the summit was peaceful some anti-G8 campaigners complained about the cost and contended it will not yield any significant payback for North .

First Minister Peter Robinson and Mr McGuinness, who met the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in Belfast yesterday evening, insisted the summit would bring lasting benefit.

Mr Robinson said it would bring “tremendous economic advantage”, while Mr McGuinness, echoing Mr Cameron’s comments, said the positive publicity it generated could not be bought.

Couple of days
“There are places throughout the world that would dearly love to have the opportunity we have been presented with over these couple of days.”

Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers said it was essential in the face of dissident republican and other threats that the organisers planned for the worst. If there had not been “excellent” security preparation there could have been public order problems.