Northern Ireland

Lough Erne resort in Fermanagh to host G8 summit

The leaders of eight of the world's richest countries are coming to Northern Ireland for their annual summit next year.

The news was confirmed by Prime Minister David Cameron after he arrived in Northern Ireland on Tuesday morning.

The main venue for the G8 event is to be Lough Erne golf resort near Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.

No event of this magnitude has ever been held in Northern Ireland before.

Speaking at an engagement at a factory, Mr Cameron said that as Britain will be the chairman of G8 group of countries next year, he gets to decide where the summit takes place.

"I've decided the right place to hold it is right here in Northern Ireland and we'll be holding the G8 on the 17th and 18th of June at Lough Erne in County Fermanagh.

"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.

"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."

He joked that he hoped he would not have trouble "keeping President Obama off the golf course".

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson said the summit decision would have been "inconceivable 10 or 20 years ago".

"This is a massive boost for us and we look forward to welcoming the leaders of the G8 nations from across the world to this part of the United Kingdom," he said.

"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."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said while he welcomed the decision to hold the conference in Northern Ireland a "sober view" was needed.

"Quite clearly this is an opportunity for the G8 leaders to sit down and discuss, I hope in a very serious and meaningful way, many of the issues which are afflicting the world at this time," he said.

"Not least the situation in the Middle East, in Syria and Palestine between the Palestinians and the Israelis."

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster described the summit decision as "marvellous news" for Northern Ireland.

Image caption Corporation tax was also discussed at the meeting

"It will create huge opportunities for tourism and for the economy," she said.

"The G8 summit brings together the heads of eight of the world's most powerful economies and confirmation that Fermanagh is the venue for 2013 means we really can show the world what Northern Ireland has to offer.

"The Lough Erne resort faced stiff competition from several other locations across the UK and I am delighted that it has been chosen as the most suitable host venue."

Brian Ambrose, chairman of Tourism Ireland, said: "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."

Speculation naming Fermanagh as a possible venue emerged last week.

With the likes of Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel attending, security will be immense.

It will be the first time that the summit - which brings together the leaders of the US, UK, Canada, Russia, Germany, Italy, France and Japan - has been held in the UK since leaders met at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2005.

This year's summit took place at Camp David in the US state of Maryland.

The five-star Lough Erne golf resort opened in 2007.

Image caption The Lough Erne hotel and golf resort is to host the summit

The hotel comprises 120 rooms and suites as well as a dedicated conference and banqueting space for 400 people.

However it went into administration in May 2011 and was put up for sale in September of this year for £10m.

At one stage, it was valued at about £30m.

Mr Cameron arrived at Stormont Castle in Belfast around lunchtime for talks with First Minister Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Secretary of State Theresa Villiers.

Among the issues they discussed was whether the Northern Ireland government should be given the power to lower corporation tax to make it more competitive with the Republic of Ireland where the rate is 12.5%.

The main rate in Northern Ireland, like the rest of the UK, is 24%.

Afterwards, Mr Cameron said he had received a report on corporation tax from the executive which he wished to study.

"I've always seen some major reasons and advantages for moving ahead on this, not least because of the land border you have with the Republic," he said.

"Martin and Peter and I will be holding a further meeting on this issue in London.

"There are a lot of complicated issues to be hammered out, it's not straightforward, it's not a single answer to the problems of Northern Ireland's economy."

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