An “alternative” G8 summit is to be organised by protesters in Ireland against global austerity measures.
Trade unionists, anti-war activists, charities, anti-fracking organisations, environmentalists and pro-Palestinian lobbyists will be involved in demonstrations to be held near this summer’s conference in the North as well as in Belfast, Dublin and London, one of the organisers said.
Police in the North are mounting a massive security operation in anticipation of trouble including creating extra cells capable of holding 350 people and imposing a ring of steel around the luxury Lough Erne golf resort in Co Fermanagh where June’s meeting of world leaders is being held.
US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are among those expected to attend a gathering of leaders representing some of the world’s leading economies hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron.
People Before Profit campaigner Eamonn McCann said: “Here we have these eight people who are all in one way or another representing big power politics, they are all in one way or another involved in imposing austerity.
“They represent the 1% against the 99%.”
The PSNI is expanding custody provision at stations across the North for the summit.
Courts and prisons staff will also step up workloads in the anticipation of extra arrests. An unused 108-capacity unit at Maghaberry high security prison in Co Antrim and a former army site in Co Tyrone could house those charged.
Mr McCann accused the media of focusing on a violent minority and said past G8 demonstrators had been angered by the sight of US security forces on the streets.
“I would hope that the protests would be peaceful but you cannot rule out provocation in some form,” he said.
“The main focus of the violence in 2005 (Gleneagles) was the tactics by foreign security services. In Scotland groups of people were being confronted by American security agents who had taken over control.”
He said it was remarkable that the PSNI had been granted late-night sittings of courts to charge suspected offenders and demanded magistrates be made available on a Sunday without any opposition from local politicians.
“Where is the democratic accountability of law and order in all this?” he asked.
“Whether or not you agree that these things should be happening, they should not be happening without public debate.”
He said that besides the alternative summit several musical events were being organised to coincide with the G8 meeting.
He said plans for Co Fermanagh had not been coordinated yet but were in the process of formation by trade union organisations.
Expected participants in protests include the War on Want and Trocaire aid charities, groups concerned about fracking for gas (Fermanagh is a potential site for the mining), organisations supporting Palestinian causes and Friends of the Earth.
Issues to be highlighted include environmental protection, carbon emissions, public spending cuts and nuclear disarmament in the UK, France and Russia.
Mr McCann claimed G8 leaders did not have electoral endorsement for some of their policies.
“There is no mandate there for nuclear weapons, no mandate for the austerity measures across Europe, every public opinion poll shows that the vast majority of people are against them,” he said.
“Greece objected to them (austerity measures), Italy objected to them, the democratically elected government there was cast aside and a technocrat was installed.”
He said elected governments’ programmes were just set aside when the IMF and major financial institutions became involved in bailouts.
He added: “I believe we need Europe-wide coordinated resistance to what is happening. There is a spirit of revolt in France, a spirit of revolt in Greece and a spirit of revolt in Italy and there is a spirit of revolt on this island against what is happening. It needs to find a focus, we must all rise up together.”