N.Ireland police chiefs optimistic of peaceful G-8

Associated Press
Police trucks patrol the streets around the G8 summit venue in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland on Sunday, June 16, 2013. In a two-day meeting, beginning on Monday, global leaders will discuss the economy and exchange views on foreign affairs and security issues. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland (AP) — Northern Ireland police commanders said Sunday they're optimistic that the G-8 summit will pass peacefully, with only 2,000 protesters expected to travel to the remote lakeside venue for the main demonstration.

About 7,000 officers, half of them imported from Britain, are providing security as leaders arrive for the two-day summit starting Monday at a golf resort on a peninsula near the town of Enniskillen.

Chief Constable Matt Baggott and his deputy overseeing G-8 security, Alistair Finlay, said they're expecting no violence and little participation by foreign protesters. They noted that police were surprised that they didn't have to make a single arrest during two anti-G-8 protests and a related outdoor concert Saturday in Belfast.

"We are quietly optimistic based on what we've seen yesterday that this could be the most successful G-8 conference," Baggott told reporters at the summit press center.

A range of socialist and anti-globalization groups plan to march Monday night from central Enniskillen to high steel fences preventing access to the Lough Erne resort as G-8 leaders hold a working dinner expected to focus on foreign policy disputes, particularly Syria.

Finlay's forces already have formed a security perimeter around the resort that includes several miles (kilometers) of coiled razor wire and boat-based police units.

Officers spent weeks training in England to face potential crowds exceeding 10,000, but Finlay said intelligence estimates put the expected number of protesters Monday night at just 2,000.

He said very few hard-core socialist protesters who targeted past G-8 summits in Europe had traveled to Northern Ireland from continental Europe. He said police believe many this time have traveled instead to Turkey to join anti-government demonstrations there.

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