Ireland has had its fair share of high level meetings over the course of the EU presidency. This week, however, Fermanagh in Northern Ireland hosts the annual G8 summit.
Northern Ireland has had decades of conflict up until 1998, when a historic agreement ushered in a new era of peace, albeit one with occasional flashes of trouble and an undercurrent of continuing sectarian tension.
This meeting, held in a resort complex nestled among Fermanagh’s lakes and islands today and tomorrow, has resulted in the by now typical range of scare mongering and high handed security measures. This is especially the case with Barack Obama’s visit today, Monday.
For the summit, police in Northern Ireland have made 260 temporary holding cells and an extra 16 judges available, should the need arise. Comically, protesters’ props, conficated earlier in the week, have been returned, following pressure from politicians and activists.
Religious leaders have emphasised tax avoidance, its role in global hunger, and the power of G8 countries to do something about it, as well as transparency: “Decisions that affect millions of people are made behind closed doors without the participation of the people affected by them,” John Sentamu, Archbishop of York said.
He suggested the introduction of a special shopping card for people in industrialised countries which would automatically donate a percentage of any supermarket food transaction to food aid programs in the developing world. He said the proceeds would go towards a “global monetary food insurance”, to ensure that “nobody in our global village goes hungry” the Irish Times reported.
Friends of the Earth’s Northern Ireland focused on food, fracking and climate change: “G8 nations should be taking the lead in tackling climate change, instead of driving forward policies that keep their economies hooked on dirty, damaging and increasingly costly fossil fuels.”
FoE Northern Ireland also sounded a warning bell about the G8 initiative ‘The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.’
This private sector initiative launched by the G8 in 2012, “proposes unprecedented power to multinational agricultural businesses, posing a major threat to smallholder farming and efforts to combat hunger in Africa.” Friends of the Earth claimed.
“Friends of the Earth opposes the privatisation of agricultural techniques and knowledge and believes the G8 should leave food security to the UN Committee on Food Security, whose role must be strengthened” the organisation said.