British Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed on Tuesday that next June’s G-8 economic summit – a gathering of the leaders of the world’s wealthiest nations – will take place in County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland, making it one of the highest-profile events ever to be held in Ulster.
As chairman of the G-8 committee, the UK has the right to choose the summit locale.
The Lough Erne golf resort located near Enniskillen will serve as the summit’s principal venue.
"I've decided the right place to hold it is right here in Northern Ireland,” Cameron said at a speech in a Belfast factory.
"I think this will be a brilliant advertisement for Northern Ireland. I want the world to see just what a fantastic place Northern Ireland is -- a great place for business, a great place for investment, a place with an incredibly educated and trained workforce ready to work for international business.
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Cameron added: "And I also want to show the world, of course, what a beautiful place Northern Ireland is and Lough Erne, where I was this morning, is one of the most beautiful places in the entire United Kingdom."
The United Kingdom last hosted a G-8 summit in 2005 in Gleneagles, Scotland.
Mark Simpson, a BBC correspondent, speculated that Cameron may have chosen an obscure, remote locale like Fermanagh in order to prevent large protest demonstrations (which have marred previous G-8 meetings).
“Fermanagh's lakeside geography will make it difficult for protesters,” he wrote.
“[But] it will still require a massive security operation, but the Police Service of Northern Ireland are well used to dealing with a high level of threat. They are also experienced in dealing with large demonstrations.”
Most Northern Ireland government officials reacted with giddiness over the once-in-a-lifetime event as a potential boon for investment and tourism.
"This is a massive boost for us and we look forward to welcoming the leaders of the G-8 nations from across the world to this part of the United Kingdom," said First Minister Peter Robinson.
"For the duration of the summit the spotlight will be on Northern Ireland and when the world's media arrives here to report on the summit, we will ensure that the message that goes out is that Northern Ireland is not only a top visitor destination, but also a great place to do business."
Brian Ambrose, chairman of Tourism Ireland, glowed: "This is an unprecedented opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland -- not only to world leaders but also to the international media. It will raise the profile of Northern Ireland and ultimately help us achieve our goal of increasing visitor numbers from overseas."
However, one note of caution came from Phil Flanagan, a local Sinn Fein MP.
"Whatever about the politics of the G-8, and Sinn Fein has been very critical of it in the past, I'm sure most in Fermanagh will be happy with the visit of the U.S. president to the county,” he said.
"The G-8 is, by definition, an exclusive group, its focus is on the interests of a small group of nations. Locating the G-8 summit on the island of Ireland will not, I suspect, bring any relief to the economic difficulties we are facing on this island."
Indeed, it remains to be seen if hosting the summit will provide any long-term economic benefits to Fermanagh – Northern Ireland’s economy is reeling.
Since 2007, the jobless rate in Northern Ireland has jumped from 3 percent to 8 percent. Youth unemployment is at 19 percent.