Northern Ireland

G8 protests: PSNI optimistic over weekend events

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Media captionExtra visitors are expected in Belfast over this weekend

The officer in charge of a policing operation in Belfast ahead of the G8 summit has said he is "quietly optimistic" the weekend will pass off peacefully.

Ch Supt Alan McCrum said there would be an enhanced level of policing across the city.

The G8 summit will take place in County Fermanagh on 17 and 18 June.

However, police said about 5,000 people were expected at each of two protest events in Belfast on Saturday.

Mr McCrum said 5,000 were expected at a trade union rally at Belfast City Hall at lunchtime.

A similar number is anticipated at an event at Botanic Gardens later that day, organised by campaigners against global hunger.

Mr McCrum said at the moment there was "nothing to suggest there were going to be any difficulties or challenges" for the police in Belfast.

World leaders will gather at the Lough Erne resort outside Enniskillen for the economic summit. It will see the biggest policing operation in Northern Ireland's history.

Security will be stepped up around Belfast International Airport between 14 and 19 June as many of the G8 world leaders and their delegations will use the airport.

Mr McCrum said that from Monday there would be a dedicated police presence at key sites in Belfast, such as the city hall.

He added: "Extensive planning has been undertaken and a range of contingencies are being put in place to keep any disruption to the city to a minimum.

"We are working closely with Translink and Roads Service to ensure that transport networks operate and that people can access public transport to get into and out of the city.

"PSNI resources will be supported by significant numbers of officers from England, Scotland and Wales, so visitors can expect to see police officers as they move through the city."

Dr Anne Wilson of the Public Health Agency said work was being done to ensure there would be "minimal disruption" during the summit.

"A significant amount of planning has been undertaken to ensure that the local population continues to have access to appropriate healthcare and treatment," she said.

"The public should continue to access their local care services in the normal way."

Lord Mayor Mairtin Ó Muilleoir said the city would remain open for business during the days up to the summit.

"Although the G8 summit will be 80 miles away in Fermanagh, it will provide Belfast with another opportunity to show it can handle global events, with all the world leaders passing through the city and one or two of them planning to stop off along the way," he said.

"It is vital that we balance the need for security and safety with the opportunity to build on the image and reputation of Belfast which has been transformed during the past 15 years."

People travelling into Belfast on Saturday and Sunday are being urged to leave extra time for their journey.

People across Northern Ireland are encouraged to stay informed and up to date by following PSNIG8 on Facebook or @PSNIG8 on Twitter.

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