Obama unlikely to travel to Leeside due to time constraints

HOPES that US President Barack Obama will visit Cork this month are fading fast.

It follows confirmation from Taoiseach Enda Kenny that Mr Obama will definitely make a public address in Dublin as part of his whirlwind visit to Ireland on Monday, May 23.

Although details of the itinerary are still being finalised, Mr Kenny said Mr Obama would meet with the President in the Áras, visit his ancestral home in Moneygall, Co Offaly, and speak at a public event in Dublin.

An advance team from the US is expected in Dublin today to discuss the final details.

Hopes that Mr Obama would visit Cork were boosted in March when he mentioned his political hero Frederick Douglass, the black human rights activist and anti-slave campaigner, during his St Patrick’s Day White House address.

But key figures who issued the invitation to Mr Obama to open a Frederick Douglass lecture series at University College Cork (UCC) have privately accepted that Cork will not now at this late stage be included in his itinerary.

Fine Gael’s Deputy Dara Murphy, who helped spearhead the initiative, said he hasn’t thrown in the towel yet. But he accepted that it was looking increasingly unlikely.

“It was a very strong proposal which was highly regarded by US Embassy officials and by several senior and very influential political figures in Washington,” he said.

“But it appears to have fallen victim to the President’s very tight schedule in Ireland.”

Mr Obama will arrive in Dublin early on May 23 before flying onto Britain the following morning.

However, Mr Obama is expected to make reference to Douglass, who during his visit to Ireland in 1845 struck up a friendship with Daniel O’Connell, during one of his speeches in Dublin — possibly at Glasnevin cemetery where O’Connell is buried.

Mr Murphy said there is an open invitation to Mr Obama to return to what will be an annual Frederick Douglass lecture series at any stage in the future.


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