By Cathal McNaughton and Maurice Neill
ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland, (Reuters) - Several dozen activists briefly breached a metal security barrier surrounding the G8 summit venue in Northern Ireland on Monday, but withdrew when police threatened to arrest them.
The protesters broke away from an otherwise peaceful rally of around 1,000 environmentalists and rights activists near the golf resort where British Prime Minister David Cameron is hosting world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama.
They climbed over barbed wire about two miles (3 km) from the resort and ran into a field waving banners and flags, but when dozens of police, some with dogs and plastic shields, blocked their path to the resort, they withdrew and dispersed.
Police are mounting one of the largest security operations ever seen in Northern Ireland, with 7,000 police officers and hundreds of armoured jeeps deployed, but they kept a low profile until activists climbed over the fence.
Police said a second barrier closer to the hotel was not breached and no one was arrested.
“I don’t think it is productive but I do understand people’s anger at the G8,” said Daniel Waldron, one of the march organisers. “The march was overwhelmingly peaceful and positive.”
The main march was much smaller than protests seen at other recent G8 meetings, which organisers put down to the remote location of the Lough Erne resort and the scale of the security operation.
The diverse crowd, which also included Irish nationalists and gay rights groups, chanted “no to hunger, no to war” and “G8, Get them out!”.
“We are here to demand alternatives to the arms race, to the persecution of the Palestinians, for alternatives to austerity,” said Eamonn McCann, a left-wing activist from Londonderry.
Marchers came overwhelmingly from Ireland, north or south. Organisers said many protesters from abroad had been put off by the location of the summit and the reputation of Northern Irish police as among the most militarised in Europe.
“People were afraid. There is a police and military machine here,” said Rakim Elhamdi, 24, who travelled with a small group of anti-capitalist activists from Germany.