Duration of Obama visit still undecided

Mon, Apr 4, 2011, 01:00

DETAILS OF the Irish visit by US president Barack Obama are to be discussed at a planning meeting today in Washington DC, according to senior political sources.

The president is expected to arrive here on or around May 21st. But it is understood that the length of his stay in Ireland has not yet been decided.

Following speculation that Mr Obama might remain in Ireland for only five hours, an opinion poll on the New York-based website Irishcentral.com found that 71 per cent of respondents felt this “would insult the people of Ireland and Irish-Americans”.

Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth is expected to visit the Garden of Remembrance and lay a wreath in honour of the leaders of the 1916 Rising during her State visit to the Republic, which is expected to take place on May 17th until the 20th.

The monarch is also likely to visit the War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge, Dublin, to honour Irish members of British regiments who perished in the first World War.

Government sources refused to comment on the details of her programme which are being kept secret for security reasons.

However, it is understood the queen will also visit Croke Park. She is expected to stay at Farmleigh House in the Phoenix Park.

It is likely that President Mary McAleese will host an official dinner for her at nearby Áras an Uachtaráin.

Amid indications of a possible visit also to Cork, newly elected Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien has said the queen is not welcome in the city and that his party will be organising protests if she makes an official visit.

“If she comes to Cork does she plan to apologise for the burning of the city under her grandfather, George V? Or the reign of the last monarch to visit Cork, Queen Victoria, during which a million Irish people died of famine?”

He added that the British monarchy was based on a set of values which he believed most Irish people did not share.