Northern Ireland win:win from summit venue

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The choice of the Lough Erne golf resort as next year’s G8 summit venue carries a bold double message. One, that overstretched investment in property need not always be fatal (the venue once worth £30 million is now priced at £10m in administration) . And two, there’s always the familiar one about the exportable peace process.  Qualifications and reservations about both messages will rightly be muted in the welcome for the highly imaginative idea that came apparently from David Cameron personally.

The immediate mood music is much what you’d expect. The political symbolism for the Union of the British Prime Minister playing host to a gathering of world leaders in Northern Ireland will linger but will be accepted as non-threatening by Irish nationalism north and south and even by Sinn Fein. The old carping note has all but disappeared.  Throughout the island, we’ve all grown accustomed to visits from on high from popes, presidents and prime ministers without them transforming our world. At supranational level they’re a symbol of interdependence. At a local level if we’re lucky, they encourage a pattern of continuing contacts, commercial, social, recreational and cultural.

Dublin will no doubt be welcome to poke its head round the corner and claim a slice of the PR action. The regional establishment well know they can benefit from inclusion in the projection of Irish identity and interests. Northern Ireland’s place in British interests has ironically been far less clear. But now, the choice of summit venue and events such as  UK City of Culture encourage British opinion to treat it more as a normal part of a nation which is already diverse, and not narrowly “as British as Finchley” . That suggests a relationship which is warming up.   We should take that message on board.  Northern Ireland can only benefit from the attention of both States.  And we will benefit even more if we leave old fashioned political point scoring aside.

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  • Dec

    In other news, panem et circenses.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “The immediate mood music is much what you’d expect.”

    Brian, you’ve made no reference to the absence of an OFMDFM statement on the PM’s announcement. I wonder what the mood music was like yesterday between Dave, Peter and Martin; Martin sounds decidedly unhappy and attempts to put an ‘island of Ireland’ spin on the event.

  • sdelaneys

    SF haven’t agreed their public stance on this one yet and being opposed to the G8 is their natural state. Cameron’s stamping ‘UK’ on the 6 counties via the UK city of culture and now the G8 summit, to a worldwide audience, is more an attempt to shore up the UK and bring the periphery into the fold than to do anything for us here. This is a tough one for McGuinness and co and that is why there has been no joint OFMDFM statement.
    These sort of jobs are the natural fall out from the provos accepting partition for the foreseeable future and an example of how the prospect of a United Ireland becomes ever more distant.
    Come on Deputy, explain how this advances Irish unity.
    By the way, I wonder what tonnage of bombs dropped these visitors are responsible for in recent year? How do people see the protests going?

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “SF haven’t agreed their public stance on this one yet”

    sdelaneys, Martin McGuinness has already posted a statement on the SF website.

  • Brian Walker

    Nevin,sdelaneys,

    Maybe the parties will have more to say but the FMDFM comments alongside the PM at Stormont Castle will do for me. Cheer up!

  • GavBelfast

    His statement really is never-never land stuff.

    I did think he did quite well to look vaguely pleased yesterday, but the stuff about Israel and Gaza?

    Presumably he and Robinson may have some sort of bit-part role next June? Of course, if they do, that might mean meeting The Queen again, though maybe that will be seen as almost routine now (for McGuinness, if not for the local MP).

    Arlene Foster was certainly in her element yesterday …. maybe it’s just perception, but she always seems to be much more prominent in supposed good-news stories like this one, rather harder to pin-down where bad news (and there’s been plenty relevant to her portfolio) is concerned ….

  • GavBelfast

    I’d add that I am happy for Fermanagh (and assume that Fermanagh in general is happy, too!) and really hope that it provides a genuine boost for the county.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    This is amazing good news. When Fermanagh was mentioned as a possibility a few days ago I thought “No way”.
    Just great. What a showpiece.

  • Dec

    A show piece for what. Do you seriously imagine tourists and investors are going to descend upon Fermanagh in their tens of thousands after a two day summit? Ever heard of Strelna? Heiligendamm? Huntsville? Well they’ve all hosted the G8 summit in the last 6 years.
    If that Tory gob****e had explained what he’s going to do about 7.6% unemployment or plummeting house prices I’d be vaguely impressed. Instead we’re supposed to be overwhelmed with a two day conference for fat cats most of us won’t be allowed within a 5 mile radius of. Just great, indeed.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    How long have Peter and Martin known about this decision? g8fermanagh dot com was registered almost a week ago on November 15. The smell of smoke should have cleared by the time the event in this isolated spot comes round.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Just drop in, Dec :) I don’t suppose the official opening of the new Giants Causeway Visitor Centre could be adjacent to the summit meeting?

  • Dec

    Nev

    Given their links with Arlene Foster’s department, perhaps the Caleb Foundation will be invited to the summit to present an alternative viewpoint that contends the current global economic downturn is God’s angry riposte to homosexuals.

  • BarneyT

    Listen..the cities of England took a battering last year…so its driven by a “not in my backyard” mentality. Remember all of the water cannons are here, so the lakes will come in useful.

    Nevin, its SFs job to talk of Ireland as an Island..oh hold on…it is…but seriously would you expect SF to start saying Northern Ireland …when the notion of “The Republic” still sticks in their throat. The more Ireland can be recognised as a single entity in international minds the better for their all-ireland campaign.

    How will this be reported throughout the world next summer?

    “The G8 summit, held in IRELAND…..blah blah”

  • Neil

    They’ll be able to nip in and out in their helicopters without seeing Eamonn McCann’s chops. I reckon that’s a good part of Fermanagh’s appeal.

  • Drumlins Rock

    I wonder can Air Force One land at St Angelo’s?

    Mr McCann will love it, he can become Chief Protestor in residence, which is great too, even our protestors have a crusty irish charm !

    ps. Did you hear ur man ask DC why it wasn’t being hosted in Lurgan?

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    Little Bread and a lot of Circus.
    MTV Awards for Adults (via the Titanic)
    The diet we are fed instead of Political Reality.

    Certainly a boost for the local economy but a lot of sins are committed in the name of boost for the local economy and we certainly cant turn our noses up at three months of business being done by Fermanagh hotels over a two week period.
    But Im not sure how we can actually welcome G8…….when so many of our left leaning people (including SDLP, Sinn Féin, Greens and others further to Left are significantly opposed to all the G8 stands for.
    Therefore there has to be a big welcome along with massively facilitated protest events.
    That at least would be honest.
    No doubt we will have photo-ops of Peter and martin walking round the Ulster-American Folk Park with Barak.
    The various heads of government tucking into an Ulster Fry.
    And the spouses of the great and the good watching some Irish Dancing and Ulster Scots culture.

    But in the long term meaningless. Less than two miles from where I am typing this, Robert Black was murdered less than a month ago. Thats the grim reality. Thats the side the Press Offices wont be addressing.

  • Mick Fealty

    I could be unkind and suggest that the track record of legacy around this kind of thing is not great. And even more unkind to suggest that this UK government has a poor record of legacy development around a much bigger event, ie that of the London Olympics.

    But there’s got to be something in it, even if it is only in the short term when there’s a glut of work. I’d like to hear more from Arlene and co about what they have up their sleeve re building a proper tourist infrastructure for Fermanagh.

  • BluesJazz

    These economic summits are rarely remembered for their location. Anyone want to go on holiday to Camp David? What is being discussed there is a facade, the real meat of global economics is GATT type stuff.

    That and whatever godawful crisis is hitting at the time.

    The most the G8 leaders will see of NI, outside of the resort, is RAF Aldergrove and Ballykinler. Any extra work will be for the MoD and their American counterparts.

  • Neil

    Ach there’ll be a few quid in it here and there. Journalists and what have ye, buying fags. Some of them may even come back.

  • Brian Walker

    Mick
    I raised no high expectations – what should people expect anyhow? But this is a second of its kind, treating NI as an admittedly interesting UK venue for an international summit, broader based that the Bush-Blair summit at Hillsborough on Iraq, remember, which was joined by Ahern the next day.

    It’s also interesting that the low cost move of Cameronian unionism hasn’t raised the sort of hackles we’d have seen even a decade ago.

    And as you say the touristas should get weaving.

    I’ve heard incidentally that Irish rain quite appeals to tourists from the hot and dusty realms we prefer to flock too once we’ve got a long weekend of family piety out of the way….

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    the body language of Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness was quite different. If unionists persist with the notion that this is all good for unionism….and frankly I believe they are right, then almost by definition it is a bad day for nationalism.
    The simple fact is that unionism has had a good year.Jubilee obviously.parades and covenant.
    The rise of Sinn Fein has in part been due to their ability to exploit nationalist fears that SDLP was giving away too much to unionism. I am convinced most ‘Gene pool’ SF supporters will still be convinced that their leadership can be trusted….where else would they go……. But for mainstream nationalists who gave SF the benefit the doubt…as indeed I did until 2009. then there certainly questions to be asked..it can’t be seen in isolation from Girdwood, Welfare, Ann Travers etc.
    Martin McGuinness looking uncomfortable is obviously good news for SDLP.
    What SDLP needs to do is to harness the LEGITIMATE protests which are bound to arise. I suspect some of the younger folks are already anticipating protests……..I take a previous point that there will be professional serial protesters heading to Fermanagh. But I think this will energise a lot of amateur malcontents like myself. I’m actually looking forward to it.

  • Greenflag

    Lets hope they (G8) get some work done on reforming the world monetary system while enjoying the bucolic Fermanagh air . On second thoughts that would probably require a G20 summit . German Kanzler Merkel will by next summer be facing re-election and will probably still be wiping the blood of the Grexit from her hands . Cameron will be closer to his political demise and only Obama will be heard above the noise .

    There’s always the fishing I suppose . But good luck to Fermanagh and may they may a few bob from their week in the limelight . I wonder will Obama nip down to Moneygall for a quick pint while he’s at it ?

  • Drumlins Rock

    FJH, looking at the geography it is obvious any protests will be confined to Enniskillen town, if any wrecking takes place will the SDLP want to be associated? I’m sure a good bit of cross borderism will be thrown in to placate SF, but even that will almost appear to be Irish Unionism, it will be a hard one to spin.

    As mentioned earlier McCann could easily become the face of Legitimate protest, I can’t really picture SDLP youth taking anthing more than token or individual stands.

    BTW even Enniskillen can be secured quite easily as it remains an island, the security reasons become clearer. Big question is, could I rent my house out for the week? :)

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    Security wise, there probably wouldn’t be a better place. Easily sealed off.

  • anne warren

    Agree with the posters who are not raising expectations.

    In July 2009 the Italian Government held the G8 Summit in L’Aquila, the city that was practically destroyed with 297 deaths in the 6th April earthquake and 50.000 made homeless.

    Approximately one thousand rooms in the barracks of the Italian equivalent of the IRS Non-Commissioned Officers’ School were remodelled to lodge the World Leaders and foreign delegations. The whole complex, including the gym and auditorium, was given a full makeover.

    Mr Berlusconi, Italian Prime Minister at the time, hoped his illustrious guests, particularly the USA. would contribute to the reconstruction of L’Aquila.

    In 2012 the city is still in ruins with rubble choking its streets. Who remembers L’Aquila?

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    DR, I tend to think of Fermanagh as an island with Augher, Clogher, Fivemiletown the single route in.
    Am not calling for violent protest…..obviously not.
    I merely state that those of us to the left of centre are deeply suspicious of G8 and all that stuff…especially the American dimension (even of a Democrat President).
    That show of power…..Air Force One……secret service types….tends to antagonise even the most passive lefty such as myself.
    So its like a red rag to a bull……and should be to the likes of Martin McGuinness and Sinn Féin.
    So SF people are in the tricky position of opposing G8 types while their Deputy First Minister is actually inside the security cordon. And presumably the Mid Ulster by-election will have taken place by then.
    SFs ambiguity CAN be exploited. Made easier by unionists adopting the G8 as a recognition of Norn Iron as part of “UK”.

    Obviously it would have to be handled delicately but SDLP did actually make their names “on the streets”. That was two generations ago.
    Im all for doing it again.

  • socaire

    Níl a léitheid d’ait agus ‘Northern Ireland’.

  • sdelaneys

    Nevin,
    Thanks for the link to the Deputy’s statement. Somehow I doubt if it will pacify the grass roots, or, if the likes of “…”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.”” will assure them that the party is still radical in any real way.

    Barney T.
    I think McG uses the term ‘The island of Ireland’ because he is afraid of upsetting the Unionists by referring to Ireland.
    Recently in the Newry and sth Armagh papers one of his men, Cllr Jackie Crowe , from Co Armagh but long term resident in Castleblaney , shocked many of his supporters by describing the proposed bridge at Narrow Water as ‘The first ever bridge between Ireland and Northern Ireland.” thereby taking Co Down out of Ireland and forgetting that there are hundreds of bridges between the 6 and 26 counties of Ireland. SF seem to have forgotten that there are 32 counties in Ireland in their desire to administer 6 of them for Westminster.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “I think McG uses the term ‘The island of Ireland’ because he is afraid of upsetting the Unionists by referring to Ireland.”

    sdelaneys, Dublin has hi-jacked ‘Ireland’ as the name for the (26-county) state so we’re now left with the second fiddle ‘island of Ireland’. I’m surprised Nationalists in the North haven’t made more of a fuss.

  • BluesJazz

    The summit will show, if it didn’t already know, that Northern Ireland is British. The PM made that clear. This is a British summit being held on British territory-”some of the lovliest scenery in Britain” according to the Prime Minister. We only get to hold the G8 once every 8 years *surprise* and Fermanagh is as British as Gleneagles, so I can see the ruffled feathers.
    SF can stand back as they did with ‘the UK city of culture’ and pretend it’s a mirage. Some ‘paddy’ crumbs will be thrown from the table to allow them the ‘republican’ vision stunt to be upheld.
    But it will be overshadowed by the global crisis. And that’s where the focus should lie.

  • Reader

    BarneyT: “The G8 summit, held in IRELAND…..blah blah”
    “… hosted by David Cameron”
    Neil: Ach there’ll be a few quid in it here and there. Journalists and what have ye, buying fags. Some of them may even come back.
    Whereas the demonstrators will bring a packed lunch and sleep in tents?

  • Skinner

    Fitzjames

    “I tend to think of Fermanagh as an island with Augher, Clogher, Fivemiletown the single route in.”

    Ha. The characteristically confused view of the 6 county nationalist. Oh it’s all one island and we’re all Irish. Except our ‘shores’ are located at the border.

  • SK

    “Some ‘paddy’ crumbs will be thrown from the table”

    _______

    Fresh from his disgusting McAreavey, comments, Blues Jazz again sets out to demonstrate what an odious little man he is. A caricature of the angry Ulster Prod.

    Anyway well done to Fermanagh. An honour to hold such an event and a great way to raise the profile of the province.