So its seems at this stage anyhow that the UK government has decided that Fermanagh will be hosting the militarized travelling circus that is G8 Summits in mid 2013. The golfing settings of Lough Erne has been flagged as the ‘resort’ of choice. Its an interesting choice of venue from several perspectives.
From a straightforward UK government point of view of ‘security’, ie minimizing the possibility that the summit will be disrupted hosting it on an island in the middle of a lake in a rural community makes sense. Certainly it poses specific logistical difficulties for those of us within the wider grassroots anti-capitalist millue, should we decide that working to shut this summit down and/or use it as leverage for longer term radical movement building against the both logic of capitalism and free market bullshit
Zooming in and out of the map below you can see its an ideal location for the helicopter drops of heads of state. Though the media circus, the logistical support, catering and politcal attache will still have to use the main roads. Getting ahead of myself but worth noting as this will all play a part in future discussions around what, if any, form of political dissent we will seek to manifest.
So why Fermanagh, why Northern Ireland? And beside geography, what are other specifics need we be thinking about.
Well ever since the anti capitalism summit hopping movements of the late 1990s and early 2000’s, across Europe and in the global south, large meet ups of the global political class this type have been forced to meet behind massive security apparatus. Whilst the political spin from the G8 etc themselves claim this a response to terrorist theats, the real threat has never come from armed groups or terrorist cells. It has in fact come from us, ordinary people declaring that our poverty and our insecurity is caused by the macro economic decisions made by that political class. We openly lay the charge that they are undemocratic and thus illegitimate, and that we hold it important that they cannot normalise the power over our lives that they hold.
Whatever about the successes or failure of that particular movement and its (lack of) strategies, its historical legacy is one still means the G8 now tries to find nice looking setting, well aware from large pesky populations so that its optics they can have more control over. Given the growing discontent across the Europe, the choice of Fermanagh make political sense to. The memory of the UK riots, and the link ups of students, militants, the unemployed and trade unions, and growing large scale disaffection with the British political system all mean that holding the G8 in the north makes sense from a City of London point of view. Why take the risk of igniting that tinderbox of social unrest and the impact that will have on their markets, when they can shunt it off to a an island within an island.
But there are many unknowns as of yet. How much consultation has there been with the indigenous political class in the north? Its seems obvious that the DUP and other unionist political parties will welcome this meeting, as its optics provide a reassurance of British political identity. Though the savvy folks with be try and screw as much as possible out for thier support. The Conservatives themselves will be happy to ham this aspect up, as they need to make sure that meeting shows off the British establishment as having strong social control and a heavy hand against all public dissent. So there are mutually supportive outcomes there
It posed greater difficulties for Sinn Fein. It seems unlikely that the PSNI will be able to pull of the policing of this themselves. The City of London, and the markets will want the Metropolitan political police to be heavily involved. The last G8 to visit the UK, in Stirling Scotland involved several police forces across the UK. What was notable then from our own perspective was the lack of coherency and uniformity of response from regional police forces on the scene. How will it play for Sinn Fein’s constituency to have Mets Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT) crawling around Fermanagh and the north generally in the weeks and months leading up to the summit? Will Sinn Fein in the north welcome this G8 circus whilst condemning Westminster for imposing budget restraints. How can it reconcile these two things publicly. Given that all costs come out of the public purse, including security, how will the political parties at Stormont justify that?
And what of ‘dissidents’? Given that most militarist (as opposed to militant) dissident activity seems to have no real political analysis or strategy beyond Brits out and shooting soft targets, how are they likely to respond. Populism would suggest they will oppose what ever position Sinn Fein adopts. But how nuanced can the Sinn Fein be as an all island organisation. Does it seem likely they will adopt a position in the south opposing the G8 whilst being respectable heads of state shaking the hands of Putin and Obama et al up north.
Another question for ourselves is how will non nationalist working class political activists and organisation in the south coperate with comrades in the north across the traditional sectarian divides. Will it be possible to build cooperation between working class folks from the republic with those from traditional loyalist and republican communities. What about working class people in the north who reject these traditional labels. And how do we go about working with the local community in Fermanagh to give them a head up in what to expect in reality as opposed to the spin likely to come from Stormont and Westminster.And how will the political class in the north seek to portray us?
Lots to think about that’s for sure…
“G8 stands for group of eight nations. It is an exclusive grouping of the political leaders of eight specific countries. It is not an institution, it has no constitution or charter, and it has no permanent secretariat or headquarters. These are of course the world’s most industrialised, wealthy and powerful States.
The G8 began as a group of six countries at a time of significant global economic insecurity in the 1970’s. The leaders of these countries would argue that they gathered, as the leading nations, in order to manage this crisis in the interests of global stability. A stability that of course ensured that they retained their power, with their interests at the heart of the global agenda and this has meant the nudging of the global economy in a direction which reinforces the supremacy of private and corporate interests over democratic and collective ones. (e.g. favouring privatisation, deregulation, capital mobility and the erosion of sovereign control over domestic economies)
The membership of the g8 has evolved over time to include the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Canada and the president of the European Union. The scope of the topics of discussion have also evolved from the first, supposedly one -off meeting that focussed on macro-economic policy. Now issues of security, trade, relations with developing countries and other trans-national issues and even domestic issues, such as employment have been discussed.
It is important to be clear that the G8 Summits are not a policy-making forum. They are a time for the leaders of these states to network and build relationships. They are a time to discuss complex international issues and crises, to allow for a more powerful collective response.
The co-ordination of these nations and their unequal influence over international institutions such as the WTO, IMF and G20 ensures that their interests dominate the world order.
As such the G8 Summits have always been a focus for protests and counter summits. Following the Peoples Global Action call for a united global day of action in 1998, the Summit protests have, however, grown and strengthened, forcing the G8 Summits to more and more remote locations with ever increasing security costs”