Obama’s Irish plans start to emerge

SPECULATION is mounting that Barack Obama is set to raise the issue of immigration reform in America and the case of Irish workers there when he visits Ireland.

With plans being finalised for the US President’s one-day visit here next Monday, details of his closely guarded itinerary have started to emerge.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter yesterday insisted that huge security costs for the visit would not affect ongoing funds for gardaí during the year.

It is now almost certain Obama’s main speech to the Irish public will be in Dublin’s city centre on Monday evening.

Security officials are still deciding between a staged event for tens of thousands of people at College Green or on O’Connell Street.

Reports from the US last night suggested Mr Obama may use the public rally as an opportunity to raise the issue of immigration reform in America, which affects tens of thousands of Irish people there.

According to Niall O’Dowd’s Irish Central website, Mr Obama’s speech is expected to last 15 to 20 minutes and will be preceded by a concert at 5pm.

US and Government officials are still remaining tightlipped about the exact plans for the visit.

It is almost certain that after Mr Obama arrives in Dublin aboard Air Force One on Monday morning, he and his wife, Michelle, will meet President Mary McAleese at Áras an Uachtaráin as well as Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his Cabinet at Farmleigh.

After a visit to US ambassador Dan Rooney’s residence, Mr Obama is set to travel to his ancestral home in Co Offaly, before returning to Dublin for the outdoor rally.

Up to 3,000 tickets are due to be issued today for the visit of President Obama and his wife to Moneygall. The tickets will be distributed, to locals and invited guests only, at the old schoolhouse in Moneygall from 10am to 4pm.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Alan Shatter has pledged that garda funds will not be hit by the millions of euro being spent on security for the visits of Mr Obama and the queen.

He told the Dáil: “When both visits are complete, we will assess the costs incurred and these will be factored, financially, into how matters develop in the coming year.

“These visits will not impact on the capacity of the garda to properly conduct its duties during the rest of the year.”


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