Obama to promote peace on Belfast visit

Obama to promote peace on Belfast visit

US President Barack Obama is set to promote peace as part of his first trip to Northern Ireland.

He arrives in Belfast on Monday morning and will visit the Waterfront Hall in Belfast, before heading to the G8 summit in Co Fermanagh.

Details of the Belfast visit were leaked in the media on Wednesday morning.

Hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron, the summit is being held next Monday and Tuesday at the luxury Lough Erne golf resort near Enniskillen. Both President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will make the trip to Northern Ireland.

The President will address a select group of local people at the Waterfront Hall including children from integrated schools.

There is also speculation that the US president could be joined by his wife at the city event.

On the agenda will be the peace process. Obama is expected to urge the people of Northern Ireland to complete the journey toward a shared society.

High security surrounding Obama's visit means that precise information - such as what time the event at the Waterfront Hall is happening - is not known.

The city's courts will not sit until midday as part of a major security lockdown in central Belfast which will also affect transport.

It is not yet known if Obama's schedule will take in any other locations in Belfast or elsewhere in the region before he meets fellow world leaders at Lough Erne.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, who hails from Fermanagh, described the impending arrival of the G8 summit to her home county as "an incredibly proud moment."

"I think there's a huge amount of rumours about at the moment, and if you're in Fermanagh you'll hear a whole manner of things that's supposed to be happening over the next number of days."

Two years ago, Obama travelled to the Republic of Ireland and visited both Dublin and his ancestral home of Moneygall in Co Offaly.

His trip next week will be the sixth visit by an American president to Northern Ireland.

The last was in 2008 when George W Bush played basketball with local schoolchildren from Loughview Integrated Primary School in Castlereagh.

Previously, Bill and Hillary Clinton had been fairly frequent visitors to the province - making three visits in the 1990s to show their support for the peace process.

Thousands of people turned out to see Bill Clinton turn out to see President Clinton turn on the Christmas lights at Belfast City Hall in 1995.

Following the G8, President Obama will travel to Germany at the invitation of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

© UTV

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