Disruption to begin in advance of Obama’s visit

COMMUTERS, shoppers and businesses can expect major disruption in Dublin from tomorrow as a massive logistical and security operation gets under way for the visit of US President Barack Obama.

Thousands of extra gardaí will once again be on duty after a week that saw severe restrictions on traffic and pedestrians while the visit of Queen Elizabeth II took place.

The challenge for the organisers of Monday’s visit to the capital will be different, however, as they will be handling an event to which the public is openly invited rather than discouraged from trying to see.

College Green will be the focal point of the trip with a concert followed by a public address by the President due to get under way there around teatime. Gates and checkpoints will be erected at entrances of all streets leading to the green with admission via security check allowed from 2pm.

Signs, bins, street lamps, bike racks and other street furniture are being removed from the area in preparation for a crowd that, if it is similar to that which greeted President Bill Clinton in 1995, is likely to run into tens of thousands.

Further restrictions will apply in the Phoenix Park where President Obama will visit Áras an Uachtaráin and Farmleigh earlier in the day. It is thought likely he will overnight at the US Ambassador’s residence in the park before departing on Tuesday morning for Britain.

Gardaí and transport operators will release details of road closures and changes to schedules over the weekend but Siobhan Moore of Dublin Airport said there would be no disruption to passengers there on Monday or Tuesday.

“It will be business as usual. Passengers won’t notice anything different as anything to do with the President will take place on a remote part of the airfield.”

Motorists on the M7 route between Limerick and Dublin will face restrictions during President Obama’s short visit to Moneygall in Co Offaly on Monday afternoon. A major security operation is already under way in and around the village itself and access there is by invitation only.

A number of demonstrations are taking place in Dublin in advance of President Obama’s visit but there are no indications that protests will take place during his stay.

Amnesty International members will hold a protest on Grafton Street today to collect signatures calling on the president to honour his commitment to close the controversial Guantanamo Bay military detention centre.

Executive director of Amnesty International Ireland Colm O’Gorman said: “President Obama’s promise to close Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre was something we warmly welcomed but it has not happened.

“Ahead of his visit to Ireland on Monday we are renewing our call on the US authorities to release the remaining Guantanamo Bay detainees, or to charge them and ensure they receive a fair trial.”

The Irish Anti War Movement will demonstrate tomorrow at the GPO to oppose US military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and call for an end to the use of Shannon Airport as a stopover for US military craft.

Waterboys to play WB adaptations for Obama

- IT has emerged that Celtic rockers The Waterboys are set to entertain crowds at College Green for President Barack Obama’s showcase public event on Monday night.

The band, set to release a new album in September, will play a number of tunes, including poetry from William Butler Yeats set to music. Obama has said that WB Yeats is one of his favourite poets.

Security gates at College Green will open at 2pm on the day.

- Several streets are to close for security reasons in and around the capital.

- Once the music has finished, Obama is expected to address the crowd.

- Signs, banners, food and beverages will not be allowed inside the site.

- A number of other Irish artists will play, although music industry sources yesterday played down the likelihood of U2 making an appearance.


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