Canada PM arrives in Dublin ahead of G8 summit

Stephen Harper greeted at Dublin Airport by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore

Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper will make a courtesy call to Áras an Uachtaráin to meet President Michael D Higgins as well as visiting the Guinness Brewery this evening, and the Jeanie Johnson Famine Ship tomorrow.   Photograph: Leon Neal/PA Wire

Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper will make a courtesy call to Áras an Uachtaráin to meet President Michael D Higgins as well as visiting the Guinness Brewery this evening, and the Jeanie Johnson Famine Ship tomorrow.  Photograph: Leon Neal/PA Wire

 

A week of protocol began in earnest this afternoon as Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper touched down in Dublin Airport ahead of the G8 summit, which begins in Co Fermanagh on Monday.

The assembly which gathered to meet the Canadian delegation gave a snapshot of the level of security and sheer organisation that is surrounding the G8.

In what was reminiscent of a scene out of a US blockbuster movie, security personnel wearing dark suits and darker sunglasses fiddled earnestly with their earpieces as they made their way to where the prime minister’s plane would be taxied.

Dotted around them stood Department of Foreign Affairs officials, airport police, DAA personnel, gardaí and members of the media, who all appeared to have developed a sudden interest in plane-spotting as they assessed each landing aircraft for signs of a maple leaf or two.

They were accompanied by a convoy of BMWs and Mercs for the more important members of the arriving delegation, and people carriers, SUVs, minivans and two buses for those further down the chain of command.

As the plane roared in for landing, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore made his way from his car looking relaxed and sporting the obligatory fashion item for any such event - the Irish EU presidency tie.

With a smile and a wave Mr Harper exited the aircraft wearing the placid smile of a man used to diplomatic displays.

He was met at the bottom of the steps by the outstretched hand of Mr Gilmore before greeting the Canadian ambassador to Ireland, Loyola Hearn, and the Irish Ambassador to Canada, Dr Ray Bassett, along with officials from the protocol arm of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Thus began a few busy days in Ireland for the Canadian PM, who will make a courtesy call to Áras an Uachtaráin to meet President Michael D Higgins as well as visiting the Guinness Brewery this evening and the Jeanie Johnson Famine Ship tomorrow. 

Mr Harper will also hold a bilateral meeting with the Taoiseach in Farmleigh House tomorrow, while Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty will have discussions with Minister for Finance Michael Noonan during the visit.

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