GARDAÍ are mounting one of the largest-ever security operations in Cork today for the Queen’s historic visit.
More than 1,000 uniformed gardaí, backed up by specialist armed units and plain clothes detectives, will be on duty as up to 25,000 people are expected to line the streets to welcome her.
Security tightened last night and traffic and pedestrian restrictions will kick in from 10am.
Gardaí, who dealt with a hoax “bomb alert” at UCC’s Castlewhite student accommodation complex at 5.30am yesterday, again encouraged people to come in to the city centre to enjoy today’s occasion.
Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh are due to arrive from Cashel at Cork Airport around 2pm.
Their motorcade will make its way to the Grand Parade where Lord Mayor Michael O’Connell and city manager Tim Lucey will greet them.
The Bodhrán Bookills — a group of 70 pupils from St Joseph’s National School — will perform before the royal couple is escorted into the historic English Market for a 20-minute stopover.
The Queen will meet traders and unveil a plaque, before being presented with a hamper showcasing the market’s finest produce.
The royal couple will then be whisked to UCC’s Tyndall Institute where they will be greeted by UCC president Dr Michael Murphy. They will spend about 40 minutes there.
Cork Chamber president John Mullins last night welcomed the visit. It will demonstrate Cork’s tourism, commerce and trade potential to a worldwide audience, he said.
“Her Majesty’s visit to Cork opens up a range of tourism and business opportunities for the region,” he said.
“The itinerary symbolises both the traditional and new aspects of Cork. The Queen’s visit to the English Market will showcase Cork’s rich history, food and tourism product while the visit to the world-class Tyndall Institute demonstrates Cork’s role at the cutting edge of technology and the smart economy.”
St Patrick’s Street will host a huge street party from noon. Two big screens will broadcast live footage of the Queen as she tours the market.
Musical entertainment will be provided by an ensemble of performers from the CIT Cork School of Music, as well as Fluteini’s Jazz Trio led by Laoise O’Hanlon and a high-octane performance by the Dizzy Blues Band among others.
Internationally acclaimed soprano Mary Hegarty will perform a free recital in the market at 6.30pm as traders throw open their doors to the public.
Meanwhile, a key figure in the Justice for the Forgotten group will address a Sinn Féin city centre rally today celebrating the republican tradition.
Margaret Irwin, a spokeswoman for the victims’ group which has campaigned for a full inquiry into the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, is expected to reiterate her calls on the British government to release all the files relating to the atrocity.
Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien said there has been much talk in recent days about the need to “move on”.
“This can only happen when the injustices and wrongs of the past have been properly redressed,” he said.
He encouraged people to attend the rally at Sullivan’s Quay, which begins at 12.30pm.
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