AHEAD of the G8 Summit at the Lough Erne Resort in June, the PSNI will have to be on their guard to the threats that will come in the form of organised and potentially violent protest groups, in addition to the existing dissident threat.
One of those groups known as, the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA) or Clown Army, were heavily involved in the last G8 Summit at Gleneagles in July 2005.
The UK–based anti-authoritarian left-wing activist group uses clowning and non-violent tactics to act against corporate globalisation, war, and other issues.
Those participating in Clown Army actions typically dress in military-style camouflage clothing, supplemented with brightly coloured trimmings, which often include clown face paint and political logos.
The costumes create a comical atmosphere and, also, serve to maintain anonymity during protests. Their weapons are usually limited to feather dusters, although some carry water pistols.
The Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA) might appear to be a ragged bunch of activists sporting false noses, a smudge of grease paint, camouflage pants and bad wigs.
Another serious threat for the PSNI and forces from England and Wales to deal with will come in the form of ‘black bloc’ protests.
This is a tactic for protests and marches where individuals wear black clothing, scarves, sunglasses, ski masks and other face-concealing and face-protecting items.
The clothing is used to conceal marchers’ identities, allow them to appear as one large unified mass, and promote solidarity.
A group of about 400 ‘black bloc’ anarchists took part in the 2011 London anti-cuts protest where they attacked various high-end retail outlets.
Their tactics can include the use of offensive measures, such as street fighting, vandalism of corporate property, rioting, and demonstrating.
But, they mainly consist of defensive tactics, such as assisting in the escape of people arrested by the police , and administering first aid to persons affected by tear gas.
More aggressive in nature, this style of protest has previously been seen at G8 Summits, notably at the 2001 Summit in Genoa and at the 2007 G8 in Germany. There, the Summit held in June 2007 witnessed a black bloc of 2,000 people.
They built barricades, set cars alight and attacked the police during a mass demonstration in Rostock.
Some 400 police officers were injured, and also about 500 demonstrators and activists.
PSNI allay local concerns regarding Summit
THE PSNI have been quick to quell any concerns regarding protesters that may descend upon Fermanagh around the time of the G8 Summit.
In a statement released to the Herald, a police spokesperson said:
“The G8 Summit is a hugely significant event which will be attended by the heads of state of the eight member countries.
“An event of this magnitude will inevitably attract protesters. The PSNI recognises people’s right to peaceful and lawful protest, and we want to work with protest organisers to facilitate peaceful protest. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss plans with them.
“The PSNI has a proactive, community-driven approach to policing, and this will underpin the policing operation in relation to G8.”
The PSNI has reiterated that their primary concern is public safety, and have assured those concerned that planning is at an advanced stage.
“As a police service, our primary duty in relation to these events is to ensure public safety and to this end, we invest significant effort in planning, alongside organisers and appropriate partner agencies, to ensure that events pass off peacefully, successfully and with the minimum disruption to those not taking part.
“The planning process is at an advanced stage, and makes contingency for protecting the local community as well as the G8 participants. We would like to reassure the local community and visitors to the county that their safety is a priority for us.”
Assurances have also been given from the police regarding the containment of protesters should mass arrests take place in June. They have confirmed that there will be facilities available to deal with the possibility of detaining large numbers.
The PSNI statement added: “Provision is being made for the possibility of multiple arrests across Northern Ireland as a result of any disorder.”
To read more.. Subscribe to current edition