HILLSBOROUGH, Northern Ireland (Reuters) - The security firm that failed to provide enough guards for the London Olympics, G4S, has been hired by the British government to provide security support at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland next month, officials said on Thursday.
In addition to anti-globalisation protesters, Northern Irish police have been charged with securing the summit against militant Irish nationalists, who in March attempted to bomb the golf resort where G8 leaders will meet.
An additional 3,600 officers from England, Wales and Scotland will also be drafted in to join the public order security operation, which police said would be one of the largest ever mounted in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers told a news conference at Hillsborough Castle outside Belfast that G4S and another company had been given contracts by the Foreign Office to provide 600 staff to work at the golf resort.
The security group, the world’s largest, sparked fury last year when it failed to provide a promised 10,400 venue guards for the London Games.
“There were serious concerns expressed about the failings of G4S and I can assure you that lessons have been learned and the contract negotiated by the Foreign Office with G4S takes into account those lessons,” Villiers said.
She did not say what measures had been put in place to avoid a repeat of the difficulties.
A 1998 peace deal largely ended more than three decades of violence in the British-controlled province between mainly Catholic Irish nationalists seeking union with Ireland and predominantly Protestant Loyalists who want to remain part of the United Kingdom.
However militant nationalists, who include former operatives who split from the IRA after it declared a ceasefire, still stage sporadic gun and bomb attacks and have targeted security forces in particular.
The summit will take place near the peak of the annual “marching season” by loyalist organisations such as the Orange Order which typically spark street violence by Republican opponents.
Additional reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Michael Roddy