Protest meeting wants 'alternative agenda' for G8

Published: 6 Dec 2012 13:001 comment

MEMBERS of the newly formed group, Fermanagh Against the G8, insist they want to "inspire an alternative agenda" for the summit next year rather than engage in protests.

Ian Butler addressing the Fermanagh Against the G8 meeting.<<

Activists from as far away as Galway joined together at Fermanagh House on Thursday night to discuss preparations ahead of the visit of world leaders to the County next June.

Chaired by Ian Butler of the Socialist Party, the meeting was attended by around 25 people.

It followed on from a similar meeting held in Belfast earlier last week.

A public event Facebook page had been set up ahead of Thursday night, inviting interested parties to get involved in 'launching a campaign to oppose' the G8 visit.

"Next summer, the G8 - the heads of government of the world's eight most industrialised nations - will meet in Fermanagh," the page stated, "These governments are implementing massive austerity, punishing workers and young people for the crisis of their capitalist system. They are overseeing the destruction of the environment and connected to the arms industry and war across the globe."

The social networking page was hosted by Domhnall O'Cobhthaigh of the Fermanagh Economic Development Organisation (FEDO) and three others, Daniel Waldron, Tyler James and Matthew Weaver.

An analyst for FEDO and Peter Quinn Consultancy Services (PQCS), Mr O'Cobhthaigh, a member of the Socialist Party himself, told the Impartial Reporter this week that his involvement with the anti-G8 group had nothing to do with his work.

"Anything to do with my private life is not related to my work as far as I can see and if there is a problem then my employer would have to bring that up with me," he said.

According to Mr Butler, the public meeting had been a positive one.

However an Impartial Reporter photographer had been asked to leave as he attempted to take pictures of those in attendance.

"That was some of the guys from Galway," Mr Butler explained, "As far as I was concerned I was more than happy for him to take pictures.

"All who attended were agreed that instead of just engaging in protests, the summit should be looked upon as an opportunity to host an alternative G8 event bringing together representatives of organised labour, environmental campaign groups and human rights advocates to discuss alternatives to policies of austerity, environmental destruction and war," said Mr Butler, "The leaders of the G8 look after the interests of the one per cent; we will give a voice to the 99 per cent. We represent the interests of workers, students, environmentalists, trade unionists, the disabled and the dispossessed. All the victims of austerity politics and the victims of the banking collapse.

"Whilst the G8 leaders will meet in secret behind a ring of steel, we will seek to engage local people and visitors in a discussion of the alternative agenda to cutbacks, environmental catastrophe and global poverty."

Mr Butler said contributions from the floor were supportive of the idea of creating an alternative event to the G8.

The meeting ended with the formation of a locally-based coordinating committee which agreed to work with other campaign groups and develop an alternative to the G8 summit event.

"At all previous G8s which have happened recently there have been protests by people from all over the world, so I don't anticipate this being very different," Mr Butler conceded, "But instead of being just a protest against something we want this to be positive by providing an alternative agenda for the G8 to consider such as looking at economic growth rather than austerity, looking after the environment rather than destroying it.

"We don't want to be seen as protesting against something but rather inspiring people to consider another agenda."

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