15 June: Big IF Belfast

One week on from the Big IF London rally, thousands of people braved rain and bad weather to attend the Big IF Belfast event in the city's Botanic Gardens. Just two days before the start of the crucial G8 summit at Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, the crowds gathered to make a massive noise and tell world leaders that it's time to tackle global hunger and save the lives of millions.

This page was updated throughout the day with pictures and news from the event. Thanks to all the IF supporters who tweeted fantastic photos and video clips, some of which are featured below.



Good morning from the IF digital team - and welcome, virtually, to the Botanic Gardens in Belfast for the second Big IF rally! Last week 45,000 people crowded into Hyde Park for the Big IF London, and the big news is that today's event has completely sold out. 

"The stage is set @EnoughFoodIF #bigif" - @BarryCabj on Twitter



Seeing lots of tweets today from IF supporters making their way to Belfast from Wales and Scotland. There seems to be a lot of Scottish IF tartan in evidence, too! Here's one example from @Gav_McLellan on Twitter:



"knitted tree messages at #bigif Belfast - top one: 'pay your taxes' - we're hoping for action on tax havens, leaders" - @ClaudiaZElliot on Twitter

We particularly love the Father Ted reference!



Having made a splash - and got lots of spots on the news - with its sudden appearance on London's South Bank yesterday, the IF / Action Aid 'Isle of Shady' tax haven has popped up at the Big IF Belfast, Remember: IF we stop companies using shady tax havens to dodge their bills, we could help end hunger.



With so much going on in the run-up to the start of the G8 summit on Monday, it's not surprising that the Big IF Belfast isn't the only important event taking place today. In London, the Prime Minister is hosting Open for Growth - a trade, tax and transparency summit - with business, civil society and governments. The focus is on why open governments, open societies and open economies are essential for growth, jobs and sustainable development. We'll bring you news of any developments at the meeting, but you can also keep in touch with live updates from the event.

Obviously, with discussions about tax and transparency - two of our four big IFs - happening, we're there to remind the delegates of exactly what they need to do. Check out our giant advertisement van parked right outside the Open for Growth venue!



"#bigif concert at botanic gdns getting underway. Great atmos and crowds starting to gather despite the rain #g8" - @sarahclarke_utv on Twitter



As with the Big IF London last weekend, the Big IF Belfast is truly a family event that's attracted people of all ages. Here are some young IF supporters with a message that you can tweet to the Prime Minister right now: "Tackle the causes of world hunger at the #G8 @David_Cameron! #BigIF"

There are also quite a few outlandish costumes in evidence! This fantastic butterfly just fluttered past our IF photographer...



The Ulster Orchestra will be one of the first acts taking to the stage very shortly. Here they are tuning up earlier:



Big news just in from the Open for Growth summit on trade, tax and transparency:

"All 10 UK #taxhavens into multilat. convention to help stop #taxdodging. Campaign win! @ActionAidUK @EnoughFoodIF #g8uk #ifcampaign #g8TTT" - @melanie_ward on Twitter



Want a sneak peek at how the Belfast Community Gospel Choir will sound when they take to the Botanic Gardens stage later? Check out this Vine posted on Twitter by @KarenLoboMorell:




The rain may still be coming down in Belfast, but it's failing to dampen the spirits of the thousands of IF supporters in the Botanic Gardens - especially when the Ulster Orchestra is on stage and sounding so fantastic!



TV presenter Zöe Salmon, who is hosting today's Big IF Belfast, has just asked the crowd to tweet their messages to @David_Cameron about tackling global hunger at the G8 summit. While the messages are flying thick and fast to the Prime Minister, here's an update from BBC News on developments at the Open for Growth summit on trade, tax and transparency:



We've just published an IF response to the Prime Minister's on UK-linked tax havens: "David Cameron has today cleared a big obstacle to a clampdown on tax dodging, but a G8 agreement that will help the world's poorest is hanging in the balance". Read more here.



"Joy from Kenya says that in Africa 66% of land grabs  are used for biofuels, which means people go hungry. #bigif" - @CAFODNorthWales on Twitter



"#Welsh #bigif supporters loving the rain..." - @MrBrendanCox on Twitter



Recent Britain's Got Talent finalist Jordan O'Keefe, who hails from Londonderry, sings and plays the very fitting Brighter Day to the Big IF Belfast crowd. Let's hope that makes the sun come out!



"Because of our famine there is a feeling of solidarity with those suffering from hunger around the world" - Northern Irish actor, playwright and director Richard Dormer addressing the Big IF Belfast rally.

Richard then introduces actor and national treasure Jim Broadbent, who reads the poem For the Commander of 'The Eliza' by Nobel prizewinner Seamus Heaney, which relates some of the pain of the Irish famine: "Their desperation rose and fell like a flock of starving gulls". The Belfast audience reduced to near silence by the powerful words and performance.



A group of IF campaigners from around the country are on stage telling host Zöe Salmon why they're in Belfast today: "I came because this campaign is not just about aid, it's about structural change" and "We wanted to come and make sure the G8 know they're not off the hook!"



The Belfast Community Gospel Choir has taken to the stage and got the crowd moving, clapping and swaying - even the rain is easing off! Here's a brief taste of how they're sounding, thanks to a Vine posted on Twitter by @gemmaruthwilson:




Some of the thousands of IF supporters at the Big IF Belfast in the Botanic Gardens, telling world leaders to take action on global hunger at the forthcoming G8 summit (and celebrating the fact that the rain has finally stopped)!



"The pride of Scotland comes to belfast for #BigIF" - @grainnewalsh on Twitter



Frank and Mwajuma, two teenage campaigners from Tanzania who have experienced the effects of hunger at first hand and are due to speak shortly here in Belfast, meet Senegalese singer Baaba Maal backstage. They look a little starstruck... (Image via @amyagnew on Twitter)



"Inspirational speaker Frank frm Tanzania had 1 meal a day as child: 'I'm here w hope & determination to make sure no more ppl suffer' #BigIF" - @carojones on Twitter



Irish dance troupe Prodijig gave a fantastic performance of fancy footwork earlier this afternoon on the Big IF Belfast stage.



"'We should not relent, we should keep on speaking loud & clear,' Susan Matale from Zambia talking about impact of tax dodging #BigIF" - @Cara_Bevington on Twitter



Northern Irish three-piece band Two Door Cinema Club arrive on stage for a semi-acoustic set. Check out a brief Vine taster from @kerri_todd on Twitter:




And a view from the stage, as - despite the rain - the crowd goes wild for Two Door Cinema Club!



At the side of the Big IF Belfast stage all afternoon, we've been adding ribbons - containing people's signatures in support of the Enough Food For Everyone IF campaign - to a huge frame. Here's the end result in the shape of well, it's pretty obvious! Despite the wet weather, this biggest of big IFs looks fabulous!



Host Zöe Salmon tells the Big IF Belfast crowd ""Let's keep up this noise so this year IS the beginning of the end of hunger!" - and they duly obliged - to welcome some very special guests to the stage: the G8 leaders themselves! Well, almost...



Here's Jim Broadbent, who gave such a powerful reading of a Seamus Heaney at the Big IF Belfast rally today, talking to UTV about his support for the IF campaign. The report includes footage of his performance.



With the sound of Queen tribute band Flash Harry blasting a medley of rock anthems across the Botanic Gardens, the Big IF Belfast rally comes to an end. Despite the bad weather, the rain hasn't dampened the spirits of thousands of IF supporters who turned out in their ponchos and wellies (and carrying their all-important umbrellas) to cheer, shout, dance and, most importantly, to tell the G8 leaders starting their summit in Lough Erne on Monday that it's time to tackle the causes of hunger.

Meanwhile, back in London, there's been a significant announcement from the Open for Growth summit as regards clamping down on UK tax havens - but an agreemwnt at the G8 itself still hangs in the balance.

The Big IF rallies in London and Belfast have been amazing events. Thanks to all of you who attended and made such a massive noise about bringing an end to global hunger. Now it's over to the G8. We'll be keeping you updated on developments there in our IF@G8 live blog and via the reports from our IF@G8 bloggers - so be sure to stay tuned.