An announcement by British Prime Minister, David Cameron, that a G8 summit of the leaders of world powers will be held in June next year in County Fermanagh has seen contrasting responses from Irish republicans.
While Sinn Fein’s Deputy leader Martin McGuinness took part in a photocall with British Prime Minister David Cameron to welcome the event, the left-wing party eirigi vowed to “actively oppose” what it said was an international grouping dedicated “to protect corporate greed”.
Considerable attention was focussed this week on the choice of venue, a financially struggling five-star golf resort which is located on a scenic peninsula of land in Lough Erne.
Making the announcement at the luxury resort -- from which guests were ordered to evacuate the previous day due to a ‘mystery’ fire -- David Cameron said the location would “show what a beautiful place Northern Ireland is”.
Commentators noted the isolated lakeshore location would also facilitate a security operation of an unprecedented magnitude, even by the standards of the north of Ireland.
The North’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness played down the controversy over the location, suggesting the summit would allow the G8 leaders to finally address the global economic crisis and the Middle East conflict.
“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,” he said.
“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 chairperson of éirígí, Brian Leeson, issued a defiant pledge of opposition to the event. He said David Cameron’s decision to bring the G8 to British-ruled Ireland was “very deliberate”.
“It is clear that he intends to use the summit to demonstrate the alleged ‘normality’ and ‘Britishness’ of the Six Counties,” he said. “It is the latest in a series of similar stunts including the recent visits by Elizabeth Windsor to both the Six and Twenty-Six Counties, the awarding of Derry as the ‘UK’ city of culture and the charade that surrounded the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic.
“In their own way each of these events added to the lie that the so called Irish question has been permanently answered.”
Leeson concluded by noting that the G8 summit would take place in the same year as the centenary of the Dublin ‘Lockout’ of 1913, a historic Irish struggle for social and economic justice against the ruling class of the day.
“There could be no more fitting way to mark that centenary than by opposing those who are ultimately responsible for exploitation, oppression, war and starvation around the world today,” he said.
“Together we can ensure that the Fermanagh summit will be remembered as the occasion that the Irish working class finally fought back.”
GAZA TRUCE HAILED
In other international news, the announcement of a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel was strongly welcomed across the range of Irish political opinion this week.
It brought an end to the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, which has killed over 139 citizens, many of them women and children, and an end to the rocket attacks on Israel which have killed five citizens.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams warned that there had been many pauses between war in that region as successive efforts to achieve a negotiated political settlement had failed.
“The Egyptian success in this instance must be built on and a more comprehensive negotiation constructed out of which a durable peace settlement can be reached,” he said.
“It is crucial that the international community continue to play an active role in encouraging inclusive negotiations involving all of the participants.”