May the tills ring out in 2013.

Ghee, 2013 is going to be some year for Ireland, north and south of the border, with the cosmopolitan cultural activities in the City of Culture and North-West, the World Police and Fire Games in Belfast, an all Ireland Gathering and now the G8 political pow wow taking place in rural Fermanagh!

Most government officials, tourism and politicians are giddy with excitement for this golden opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland and perhaps surrounding regions to the world with the hope that it will attract badly needed investment and more foreign visitors to our shores. And it’s good news for the Lough Erne Golf & Spa Resort too! It has been rescued from the rough by a booking of a life time as it awaits a new owner—price tag £10 million if any of you are interested—and its high profile guests.

So while one half of us are totting up our points and saving for our next Super Valu break and the other half of us are away making a crust in far flung places, the leaders from the richest nations in the world are preparing to mix business with leisure in Fermanagh to debate about the future of the world but will their chit chat bring relief to the present economic difficulties?

The morning after Cameron’s announcement I rang my dear retailing, on the verge of closing down, menopausal friend of mine who has poured her heart and soul into her pretty shop in Enniskillen. “Yo,” I said, “I hear you are expecting visitors.” “Aye,” she said, “More visitors!” My friend is under no illusions. When President Clinton and Her Majesty The Queen of England came to her town they only attracted people watchers, protestors and padded security, not business. Unless the G8 leaders are big into retail therapy she doubts very much if her till will ring during the two day summit.

“It’s great for Fermanagh but bad for business. They picked the perfect location—a fortress in the middle of nowhere—easy to ring fence and lock-down. It will cost the taxpayer millions and security will cut off Enniskillen. The shops will be empty, the roads congested and locals will suffer….” What’s new pussy cat? “I may as well close for the week,” she said.

After listening to my friend I considered ringing Cameron myself. Maybe he would reconsider? Could they have a conference call instead? Skype perhaps? Cheaper…less disruption…no need to worry about the rain? How can you save the world in two days anyway and that Nick Faldo golf course is going to be a terrible distraction, don’t you think? Humph? Least my friend could keep her shop open for the odd unsuspecting tourist that might stumble upon sleepy Fermanagh and part with a few pound but then what about the chance in a lifetime for Ireland’s beauty to shine in the eyes of the international media? Even my friend hoped that while Fermanagh held the world’s attention during the G8 summit there might be a long term spin off and busier weeks ahead.

Ahhh…It would seem there is always a price to pay and lessons to learn. So I didn’t ring Cameron but I do hope while G8 is considering their menu and spa treatments…er…I mean agenda and policies let’s hope they don’t leave Ireland in the economic state it was in before they arrived. Maybe Chancellor Angela Merkel will need some retail therapy and surely all those guys will want to bring a little something back to their wives and loved ones…that is, if they are not being put up in the Lough Erne hotel too. Maybe they will do their own shopping! Who knows? My friend’s till might ring out yet!

© Aileen McGee


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