David Cameron confrims G8 summit for Northern Ireland

IT has been the worst kept secret for over a week now.

Today, Prime Minister David Cameron finally confirmed what Fermanagh people already knew – the G8 summit of the world’s top leaders is coming to the land of the lakes.

But not everybody was overjoyed, particularly deputy first minister Minister Martin McGuinness.

He was all smiles when he went the Prime Minister at Stormon Castle.

However, his party released a statement from him saying: “The more important issue than the location of the G8 summit is the impact  that it will have on many millions of people throughout the world. The  leaders of the G8 countries need to address the economic crisis that  faces the world and also to address the very grave situation in the  Middle East.

“Ireland, north and south, has suffered terribly as the result of the world  recession caused by the irresponsible behaviour of financial  institutions and some governments.

“Unemployment rates of 15% in the south and 7.6% here in the north highlight the need for an economic strategy which puts people and not financial  institutions, including the banks, first and foremost.

“I hope G8 leaders when they come to Fermanagh will recognise and accept  the need to do something deep and profound to assist people, many  millions of whom are the poorest on the planet today.”

The conference will be held at the Lough Erne Golf Resort in Enniskillen over two days next June where they will discuss global finances, security, trade and international terrorism.

Ironically, the summit will be held at a venue which is currently in administration and up for sale.

It will be a massive security headache for the PSNI because of the dissident republican terror threat in the county led by convicted bomber John James Connolly.

Mr Cameron made the announcement shortly after arriving in Northern Ireland for a whistle stop trip.

He is currently the chairman of the Group of the Eight and decided to bring it to Northern Ireland and not mainland Britain.

Speaking at an engagement at a factory, Mr Cameron said that as Britain will be the chairman of G8 group of countries next year, he gets to decide where the summit takes place.

“I’ve decided the right place to hold it is right here in Northern Ireland and we’ll be holding the G8 on the 17th and 18th of June at Lough Erne in County Fermanagh.

“I think this will be a brilliant advertisement for Northern Ireland.

“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 business.

“And I also want to show the world, of course, what a beautiful place Northern Ireland is and Lough Erne, where I was this morning, is one of the most beautiful places in the entire United Kingdom.”

He joked that he hoped he would not have trouble “keeping President Obama off the golf course”.

According to reports, no golf tee times are available at the resort for the duration of the stay of world leaders.

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson thanked Mr Cameron for his decision.

“This is a massive boost for us and we look forward to welcoming the leaders of the G8 nations from across the world to this part of the United Kingdom,” he said.

“For the duration of the summit the spotlight will be on Northern Ireland and when the world’s media arrives here to report on the summit, we will ensure that the message that goes out is that Northern Ireland is not only a top visitor destination, but also a great place to do business.”

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster described the summit decision as “marvellous news” for Northern Ireland.

“It will create huge opportunities for tourism and for the economy,” she said.

“The G8 summit brings together the heads of eight of the world’s most powerful economies and confirmation that Fermanagh is the venue for 2013 means we really can show the world what Northern Ireland has to offer.

“The Lough Erne resort faced stiff competition from several other locations across the UK and I am delighted that it has been chosen as the most suitable host venue.”

Brian Ambrose, chairman of Tourism Ireland, said: “This is an unprecedented opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland – not only to world leaders but also to the international media.

“It will raise the profile of Northern Ireland and ultimately help us achieve our goal of increasing visitor numbers from overseas.”

Speculation naming Fermanagh as a possible venue emerged last week.

With the likes of Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel attending, security will be immense.

It will be the first time that the summit – which brings together the leaders of the US, UK, Canada, Russia, Germany, Italy, France and Japan – has been held in the UK since leaders met at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2005.

This year’s summit took place at Camp David in the US state of Maryland.

The five-star Lough Erne golf resort opened in 2007.

The hotel comprises 120 rooms and suites as well as a dedicated conference and banqueting space for 400 people.

However it went into administration in May 2011 and was put up for sale in September of this year for £10m.

At one stage, it was valued at about £30m.

Mr Cameron arrived at Stormont Castle in Belfast around lunchtime.

He was greeted by the NI Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who he is due to hold talks with.

Their meeting is likely to include discussions on whether the Northern Ireland government should be given the power to lower corporation tax to make it more competitive with the Republic of Ireland where the rate is 12.5%.

The main rate in Northern Ireland, like the rest of the UK, is 24%.

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