Locals take G8 disruption in their stride

Hope that summit publicity will lead to a tourism boost

US president Barack Obama with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the G8 summit in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

US president Barack Obama with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the G8 summit in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

 


“The queen came here and I don’t think there was a quarter the amount of security,” said shop owner May Wylie as she surveyed the phalanx of armed guards lining Weststreet bridge in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.

For the past few days the town has been caught up in a £50 million (€58.8 million) security operation involving surveillance drones, no-fly zones and 8,000 members of the police.

The security approach to protests against the G8 summit, taking place at the nearby Lough Erne resort, seems to have been to kill them with kindness: special police liaison teams brought cups of coffee to the few protesters who arrived over the weekend and maintained an amicable atmosphere throughout.

But the heavy security presence still acted as a reminder to any would-be trouble-makers. Convoys of armoured Land Rovers patrolled the town and armed PSNI members were stationed along streets and bridges.

For Ms Wylie, the extent of the policing had had a detrimental effect on trading. “Last week everybody was complaining about how dead the shops were,” she said.

But Jenny Farrell of Jenny’s Coffee House only had praise for the summit. “It definitely is great for the town and it’s great that it’s been so peaceful,” she said, adding that locals were hopeful the publicity would lead to a tourism boost later in the season.

Chris Donegan, a journalist with local paper the Impartial Reporter, said locals were getting on with their lives as normal for the most part. He said some had anticipated difficulty in getting to work and travelling to and from the town but this had not materialised.

Trevor Kingston, the owner of a local fishing and homeware shop, also welcomed the summit. In particular he praised the effort that went into “sprucing up” the town beforehand. He added that anyone who had lived in the area over the past 40 years was “well used to security forces being on the streets”.