Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the G8 summit in Co Fermanagh will give Ireland a chance to set out to world leaders how it has answered the challenges brought by the economic downturn in recent years.
The summit will be held at the Lough Erne resort in Co Fermanagh on Monday and Tuesday.
As chair of the rotating EU Presidency, Mr Kenny will attend talks on the fringes of the proceedings.
Speaking in Ballina, Co Mayo this afternoon, he said the summit would allow for further discussions on the deal to proceed with EU / US free trade talks. Mr Kenny said this had enormous potential for the union in the years ahead.
He said he is expecting the G8 summit to focus on human rights, hunger and the ongoing conflict in Syria.
A crowd of around 1,500 people took part in a march through Belfast this afternoon in connection with the G8 summit, which will be attended by the leaders of Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Russia, Japan, Canada and the US.
As the crowd gathered at City Hall in Belfast for speeches, a separate demonstration was being staged by loyalists, unhappy at the decision by Belfast City Council to limit the number of days the Union flag flies over City Hall.
A free anti-food poverty concert organised by a number of charities, including Trocaire, Oxfam and Christian Aid, is taking place at Belfast's Botanic Gardens this afternoon in front of a crowd of an estimated 2,000 people.
Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper arrived in Dublin this afternoon and is due to meet with Mr Kenny and Táinaiste Eamon Gilmore before he travels North on Monday.