CORK city will be locked down for the Queen of England’s visit next week in one of the biggest security operations the city has ever seen.
Gardaí remained tight- lipped yesterday on the exact details of the policing arrangements but they unveiled a plan for the release of information, which begins today.
The Garda press office warned of disruption as a result of the substantial security operations.
Traffic and parking restrictions will be in place and diversions and road closures will be in effect.
Pedestrians in city centres will be limited to crossing streets at designated points due to the erection of barriers. And pedestrians may be subject to garda searches at specific points.
Security preparations in Cork stepped up a gear last night as hundreds of council workers and gardaí were deployed on the N25 Airport Road to inspect and seal dozens of manhole covers and drains. The work will resume at 7pm tonight.
A ring of steel will be thrown around key city centre streets from mid-morning on Friday, May 20, ahead of the Queen’s arrival.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will visit the English Market and UCC’s Tyndall research institute on the final leg of their four- day state visit.
They are expected to arrive at Cork Airport by helicopter from Cashel in the afternoon. The army will be deployed around the airfield.
The Irish Aviation Authority is expected to declare a no-fly zone for the duration of the visit.
However, normal flight operations will resume once the couple departs.
Garda leave has been cancelled and hundreds of uniformed gardaí drawn from across the southern division will be deployed along the route.
Plain clothes and armed detectives will mingle with crowds. They will be backed up by members of the armed Regional Support Unit, and the elite Emergency Response Unit.
The Garda helicopter is expected to be in the air monitoring the crowds.
It is understood that Navy ribs will patrol the River Lee, with a naval vessel deployed in the harbour to provide logistical support.
Despite the intense security, authorities hope a festival atmosphere can be created. They hope to allow hundreds of school children line the South Mall for the royal couple’s visit to the English Market.
But the market and Tyndall will be declared “sterile secure zones” and will be closed to the general public.
Gardaí have vetted hundreds of people who work in areas the royal couple will visit, and vetting people who live and work along the routes they will travel.
Hundreds of office workers have been told to expect disruption, and some have been told to make alternative travel arrangements.
Anyone who will have direct contact with the royal couple have been subjected to a much more stringent vetting process.
Several tall buildings from where a possible threat could be posed have been assessed by security experts.
All manhole covers, sewers, utility access panels, as well as access panels on street light poles on the route the Queen will travel, including the N25 Airport Road, the South Link Road, the South Mall, the Grand Parade, St Patrick’s Street and Washington Street, have been sealed.
Landscaping and grass cutting is also underway along the route as Cork City Council front-loads its works programme.
The Black Ash park-and- ride will operate as normal, but delays are expected in the afternoon.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved