Militant groups 'may unite to disrupt G8'
on 22/03/2013 12:01:17
Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay insisted the PSNI was prepared for any upsurge in terrorist activity when the leaders of the world's eight richest countries meet in Co Fermanagh in June.
"We are aware of a range of groups who either jointly or individually might want to come together to cause some disruption," he said.
The senior officer declined to be drawn on whether he believed dissidents, who have murdered two soldiers, two police officers and a prison guard, would seize the opportunity for a major publicity coup.
However, he added: "Dissident republican activity is sadly an ongoing feature of Northern Ireland."
World leaders including US president Barack Obama, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian premier Vladimir Putin are expected to attend the huge event at the luxury Lough Erne Golf Resort in June.
A massive security operation will be mounted and thousands of police officers from UK forces will be drafted in to help bolster PSNI numbers. They will help provide security and safety at a range of key venues and will be able to exercise the same powers of arrest, stop and search.
Help will also be provided by Gardaí.
The British Army will be on standby but there are no plans to bring soldiers on to the streets to deal with protesters.
"We have no plans to utilise the Army in that way. We would get additional mutual aid from GB," said Mr Finlay.
Meanwhile, the PSNI is to spend millions of pounds on a new helicopter and is expected to brief the Policing Board about the possibility of purchasing two drones ahead of the G8. The remotely operated aircraft would be used to relay live pictures from high-quality cameras.
Mr Finlay batted away claims the new equipment, which would be used to combat terrorism after the G8, was a waste of money.
"A new helicopter is a planned replacement to give us more capacity. We don't have UAVs (drones) yet. We are discussing with the Policing Board," he said during a live Twitter discussion hosted by the Enniskillen-based Impartial Reporter newspaper.
Despite the increased pressure on resources, Mr Finlay claimed to be confident the PSNI could cope and that normal policing in other parts of Northern Ireland would not be adversely affected.
"There will be a huge number of officers in NI (Northern Ireland) at the time. We are confident we will be able to deal with normal policing business," he said.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron announced in November that the G8 would be held in Fermanagh. The main venue for the two-day summit is the five-star Lough Erne resort near Enniskillen but a number of other premises will also be utilised and accommodation is already scarce.
It will be the first time the annual event has been held in the UK since Gleneagles in Scotland in 2005 - the last occasion the British Government chaired the G8 - and is undoubtedly the most high-profile event ever staged in Northern Ireland.