Countdown to an imperialist jamboree
Friday 24 May 2013
Some say the old gang of industrialised nations, the G8, is less relevant than it was now most of its members are dragging down a global economy kept afloat by the rising Brics countries.
But you wouldn’t know it from the ramped-up security state throwing its weight around in Ireland three weeks before this year’s summit in County Fermanagh.
As you read this Ireland is being turned into a boot camp to ensure the rich and powerful can have their imperialist jamboree at Lough Erne resort.
This week we heard that Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable Matt Baggott had made an unannounced visit to the resort to discuss security arrangements with the Irish police.
He was accompanied by Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay, local district commander Chief Superintendant Pauline Shields and the Garda Siochana‘s Commissioner Martin Callinan and Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny.
Baggott said he was confident they could “deliver a safe and secure event, and this will be in no small part due to the professionalism and commitment of my colleagues. We will as always also be working closely with our colleagues in An Garda Siochana.”
The confidence comes from the knowledge that 3,600 police will be drafted in from forces across Britain.
They’ve been given extra training with water cannon and armoured Land Rovers, both of which are used routinely only in Northern Ireland.
US security forces and the British army will be on the ground and in the air.
If that’s not enough, the infamous G4S is to form part of the “guard of honour” to protect the “leaders” of the world.
G4S has earned itself a reputation second to none – as rip-off merchants and thugs, that is.
Northern Ireland public-sector union Nipsa‘s latest research shows that British-based G4S operates in 125 countries with more than 650,000 mostly low-paid employees. This makes it one of the world’s largest private-sector employers.
Despite this might it hasn’t much of a reputation for competence. During the London Olympics the British government was forced to draft in the police and army to deal with security when G4S failed to do the job.
Or maybe this “drafting” was just practice for the forthcoming G8?
Police are certainly being drafted in here. In an act reminiscent of the 1970s, police intend to occupy hundreds of vacant premises in Belfast.
And just to show how hospitable we are, an entire prison block at Maghaberry jail in Northern Ireland has been set aside for those protesters who are “disobedient.”
The former Lisanelly army barracks near Omagh will also be used as a temporary holding centre for those arrested.
In the meantime ordinary folk here will be subject to restrictions and attacks on civil rights extending beyond those used during Britain’s miners’ strike in 1984 – or indeed when Elizabeth Windsor visited Dublin last year.
Speaking in Dungannon last week Tommy McKearney, a spokesman for the Fermanagh protest group, said: “Anybody who thinks the security measures being put in place for the G8 will simply be lifted when the G8 goes away is naive. All precedent suggests otherwise. This is a serious invasion of the right to protest which should be resisted.”
It’s almost certain that employees in the hotel industry will be vetted. They’re being given training whether they want it or not.
A senior PSNI officer briefed Fermanagh hoteliers on how to act during the summit. “Is the item or object obviously hidden, has it been deliberately concealed from view? Is it odd, out of the ordinary – maybe it is showing wires, batteries or even has a strange chemical-like odour?”
At the Killyhevin Hotel last month officers told hotel owners and staff “not to touch any package or item you believe may be of evidential benefit to police.”
And in a document given to hotel staff about the exercise procedures the PSNI outlined the steps it thinks hotel workers should take in the event of discovering a suspicious object.
Hotel staff are being asked to look out for strange or strong smells, stains or dampness on outer or inner packaging, warning notes and “vapour clouds.”
A guide for businesses was also handed out. “The police will not normally search your premises for you,” it warns. “This is your responsibility and can be achieved much more quickly by staff who are familiar with their surroundings.”
As the hotel industry is notorious for poor conditions and low pay it remains to be seen whether or not workers are going to get danger money for this extra work.
And will “suspect” workers be suspended for the duration of the event? And if they’re not in a union, who will speak up for them?
Well, if our rulers are busy so are we. Preparations are being made for legitimate protests and meetings in Belfast and Fermanagh.
In Belfast the Communist Party of Ireland has organised public meetings inviting speakers from the Communist Parties of Britain, Portugal and Greece.
These parties are no strangers to police brutality on demonstrations.
A major demonstration with support from trade unions and civic organisations will take place in Belfast on June 15, two days before the G8 begins.
Belfast and District TUC is taking the lead in organising four days of “events to challenge the imagination and fire the mind” from June 13 to 16.
There’ll be a demonstration in Enniskillen organised by anti-fracking groups among others, though many feel there will be severe restrictions placed on it. But that’s never stopped civil rights activists.
As a friend of mine from Sligo says, there will be other acts of civil disobedience but people won’t want to talk about details over the phone.
In typical Spike Milligan fashion, as the ears go to the ground and to the walls we must remember what Patrick Magill once said. “Tell a secret to a friend at night and it’s across seven fields in the morning.”
Many demonstrators are afraid there will be violence from the state and other quarters. And if there is violence from a handful of protesters – which is pretty predictable – you may be sure the media will focus on that alone.
Still, we aren’t going to lie down and let them have their party. At the end of the day we don’t want the G8 in town, and British PM David Cameron has made a big mistake bringing it here.
Only 15 years after a tenuous peace settlement he is resurrecting the conditions for increased violence, attacks on civil rights and sectarianism.
An opportunity to spread mayhem for martyrs and masters alike.
In this respect we must be sure we keep our eyes on the prize – solidarity with each other, and opposition to the leaders of the capitalist world system.
People living near the luxury resort that will host this month’s G8 summit have complained that thousands of pounds have been spent on a superficial facelift for the conference: here.