Security may be stepped up for Obama’s visit

THE US Secret Service will largely decide whether security for President Obama’s visit to Ireland needs to be stepped up following the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said while security for the visits of both Queen Elizabeth from May 17 to 20 and Mr Obama on May 23 was already very tight, “arrangements are always under review”.

In relation to Mr Obama’s visit, Mr Varadkar said: “Largely the security efforts are being co-ordinated by the Secret Service, and the US Secret Service has been protecting American chief executives now for the best part of a century, so really they’re the ones who are taking the lead on this and they’re the ones who are giving us the necessary advice as to what arrangements need to be put in place.”

“It’s not unusual for America to be at war. So we’ve had similar situations in the past where you [had] to have maximum security, and I think, for the visit of an American president, security is always going to be maximum regardless of the context.”

The minister said while he took no pleasure in bin Laden’s death, it would hopefully bring “closure” to the families of loved ones killed in terrorist attacks linked to him.

“I don’t think it’s right to take pleasure in one’s death, even if that’s of Osama bin Laden, but we do definitely hope it will bring justice and closure to the families of people who died in 9/11 and 7/7 and all the other terrible attacks of terrorism that were inspired by bin Laden and al-Qaida,” Mr Varadkar told RTÉ radio.

“As far as I’m concerned, this isn’t a day of death; it’s a day of hope really, and the hope is that this is the beginning of the end for the era of Islamic extremist terrorism.

“They’ve had two major blows this year: first is the death of Osama bin Laden and then secondly, really, is the Arab Spring, and the fact that that revolution and uprising in Arab countries has not been inspired by al-Qaida and bin Laden. So in that sense, I think it is a good day, notwithstanding the death of an individual.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny described bin Laden’s death as “a major achievement in the effort to rid the world of the threat of terrorism”.

“Today we think of the victims of [the 9/11] attacks, including those from the Irish-American community, many of them from the police and fire departments who died trying to save others. And we remember all the other victims of international terrorism.,” Mr Kenny said.

“The events in Pakistan do not mean that the international community should let up in its efforts to address the threat that international terrorism continues to pose for us all.

He said: “We must redouble our efforts to address the causes of terrorism and to build a world of peace, security and prosperity for all.”

“Ireland will continue to work within the framework of the United Nations, the European Union and with the broader international community to address the scourge of terrorism and its root causes.”

Mr Kenny is travelling to New York tomorrow for a two-day trip.


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