Gardaí draw up security plans

GARDAÍ have begun drawing up major security plans for the May visits of US President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth.

Preliminary indications suggest the Queen will visit on the week starting May 16, with President Obama expected the following week.

The Government will have to find millions for the security bill, which could cost €20 million.

Security for the visit of then US President George Bush in 2004, who was in the country for 18 hours, cost more than €8m, according to official figures.

The British monarch is expected to stay in the country for two or three days. It is not yet clear if the US president will stay overnight. If he travels to his ancestral home in Moneygall, Co Offaly, it may mean an overnight stay.

The garda overtime budget has been heavily cut in recent years, which, combined with falling staff numbers, will place heavy demands on the force, and in turn on Government coffers.

“Money for overtime will have to be got some way, it will have to come from somewhere,” said a senior security source. The issue is expected to be raised in discussions between the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and Justice Minster Alan Shatter.

The source said each of the visits are likely to cost around the same as the Bush visit.

The Assistant Garda Commissioner for Dublin, Mick Feehan, will begin planning for both visits in conjunction with the Special Detective Unit (SDU) and local chief superintendents.

The SDU and its elite Emergency Response Unit will be in charge of operations, including personal protection and close protection.

The SDU will work in conjunction with the US Secret Service and the London Metropolitan Police, which will be armed.

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