Patience of some citizens and tourists set to snap as gardaí divide city for royal motorcade

 

Some in Dublin were not best impressed at finding their way across the Liffey barred yesterday – a right they usually take for granted, writes JAMIE SMYTH

ON THE second day of the royal visit, the massive security operation deployed to keep the Queen safe was beginning to stretch the patience of some residents and tourists in Dublin.

At 3pm on O’Connell Bridge, a few hundred people were lined up along the steel railings thrown up at intervals during the day by scores of gardaí, effectively cutting the city in two.

“I’m a childminder and I can’t get across the bridge to get the children home. They just got out of school and they are hungry, but I don’t even have money on me to buy them food,” said Patricia, who was looking after a six-year-old and a three-year-old.

She pushed her buggy up and down the barricade, occasionally asking one of the gardaí when the road will reopen, allowing her to pass and get a bus to Fairview – but no one seemed to know exactly when the Queen will pass again.

“I think it will be open again in 20 minutes, but it could be later,” a helpful garda said.

Patricia was not impressed.

Trinity College Dublin students Róisín Nic Fhearghusa and Aisling Keane were also showing signs of frustration at the steel barricade.

“We have been doing exams and it’s inconvenient to have the college shut down for this visit,” said Róisín, who finished her last exam just a few hours earlier.

“Personally I don’t agree with the visit. I think it is premature, with all the stuff that is going on up North. I think we need an apology from the Queen,” she added.

On Tara Street, about 100 bemused FC Porto and Braga supporters, in Dublin to watch the Europa Cup final, were wondering why the Queen’s visit had been scheduled to coincide with a major European sporting event.

Many had their bags searched as they passed through the barriers to get to the other side of the city.

“We got screwed by the Queen. We were supposed to have a tour of the city on our travel package and now we can’t do it,” said Arthur, a Porto fan on a one-day football trip to Dublin.

“It’s a stupid thing to arrange two events in one day.”

While we were chatting, a well-dressed lady clearly in a rush pushed past the crowd. “I came up from Galway this morning and I had to abandon my car somewhere close to Croke Park. I’m really late for a conference,” she said, when I caught up with her down the street.

About half the 30 people I spoke to though during a three- hour trek around Dublin city centre said they welcomed the Queen’s visit and understood the need for tight security.

“I left early for work this morning because the N4 was closing, but I this visit will be good for tourism,” said Ray McKeon, a businessman working in the city.

“All those protests yesterday were very bad PR for the country. I think it is appropriate that there is a lot of security.”

Catherine, a flower-seller on Grafton Street, said she didn’t bother to set up her stall yesterday because the city centre was completely deserted on the first day of the Queen’s visit.

“Today there are more people about, particularly with the football. They say this visit will do the country good. So hopefully in the long term it will work,” she said.

At a bus stop on Kildare Street, a few metres up from the Dáil, Louise said she was waiting longer than usual for a bus, but was a strong supporter of the Queen’s visit.

“Okay, I may have to wait a few extra minutes for the 46A because of ‘the Maj’, but I think this visit is absolutely fabulous. We are bigger and better than holding grudges,” she said.

“I got goose pimples just watching her on TV wearing that green dress,” Louise added, already getting excited about President Obama’s visit next week.

Whether the rest of Dublin’s residents can cope with a further week of traffic disruption due to the presidential visit remains to be seen.