A CLAIM that hosting the G8 in Fermanagh in 2013 would generate over £200 million for the area was “vastly exaggerated” when it fact it actually brought over £4 million to the local economy.
That’s the findings of a new report commissioned by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council which examines the 39th summit held at the Lough Erne Resort in Enniskillen five years ago this week.
The event was attended by world leaders, including the then Prime Minister David Cameron, the then U.S President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In the 48 page document, devised by consultant Peter Quinn and costing £2,800, it is stated that the “media and political hype” surrounding the “vastly exaggerated estimates” of the potential benefit to the local and regional economies “proved to be just unrealistic.”
Some of the estimates of the value of media coverage and of its capacity to increase the region’s potential for economic development or to provide exposure for both Fermanagh and Northern Ireland as attractive places to visit, or in which to invest or do business, have since turned out to have been “far too optimistic”, states the report.
One reason for the huge shortfall in the benefits received was that a major anticipated telecommunications legacy expected to derive from this event “did not materialise to anywhere approaching the anticipated extent.”
“There were a variety of reasons and excuses for that, none of which was created locally; but by far the biggest long-term reason for that loss of value was that the hardware associated with the enhanced communications structures, around the venue for the Summit was removed immediately after the event ended.”
Contemporaneous reports also indicated that as many as 8,000 to 9,500 police and other security personnel were involved in activities related to controlling and managing the potential for disturbances during the period of that Summit. Security arrangements included a significant cohort of private sector, experienced security specialists, from two different companies, who were mostly hosted in so called ‘compounds’ located beside the host hotel. 
“That increased in the days immediately prior to the event as well as during it. But ultimately, disruption in the immediate area was not on a major scale, due mainly to the approach adopted by the local statutory organisations.
“It is against that background that this study was commissioned; it is designed to ascertain the short and medium-term contribution of that international event to the economy of the immediate area to that of County Fermanagh,” said the report.
It cites a previous report entitled ‘Economic Impact of the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland’, produced prior to that Summit, by the University of Ulster and endorsed by Barclays Bank, which suggested that the local economy would secure an immediate, short-term benefit of at least £40 million, based on the benefits achieved by the Gleneagles Summit of July 2005, that ‘global media coverage’ would be worth £70 to 80 million; and the so-called ‘legacy benefits’ such as foreign direct investment, exports and tourism would amount to a further £180 million, over the subsequent three years. 
“While the emphasis in that Ulster University report was on the Northern Ireland economy as a whole, the figures suggested in it were very far from reality.”
The report suggests that the U.K. Government committed to paying at least £60 million towards the cost of hosting this Summit, with the balance coming from the Northern Ireland exchequer. 
“But neither the precise costs associated with the event, nor how those costs were actually apportioned or funded, have ever been clarified publicly.
“The one regret, which became obvious during the production of this report, was that, while leading-edge communication systems added to the success of the Summit, those assets and facilities were not retained in Fermanagh, where they could have increased the benefit from this event, by a major factor. That could have been the real, transformational benefit from this event,” said the report.