Security tight for Obama visit

 

Tight security and traffic restrictions are in place ahead of the visit of US president Barack Obama tomorrow.

Mr Obama is expected to visit his ancestral home in the village of Moneygall, Co Offaly in the afternoon before speaking at an open air rally and concert at College Green, in Dublin in the evening.

Access will not be restricted to the free concert and presidential address but those attending will be screened.

Mr Obama will speak at the same location where former president Bill Clinton addressed a crowd during his visit in 1995.

Unlike the Queen’s tour, which concluded on Friday, this is not a State visit and therefore will not carry the same degree of ceremony.

Mr Obama will be the sixth US presidential visit to Ireland. The first was made by John F Kennedy in 1963.

At the start of the visit, Mr Obama and the First Lady will call on President Mary McAleese at Áras an Uachtaráin.

They will sign the visitor’s book and there will be a tree planting ceremony. Two children will ring the Peace Bell and greet Mr Obama and his wife Michelle.

Mr Obama will then meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his wife Fionnuala at Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park.

The Taoiseach and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore will then hold a meeting with Mr Obama to discuss economic matters; the Northern Ireland peace process and co-operation between the countries on food security.

Weather permitting,Mr Obama will then be taken by helicopter to Moneygall. His great-great-great-great-grandfather was a shoemaker in Moneygall and his son, Falmouth Kearney, left for New York in 1850.

Residents queued for up to six hours on Thursday to secure a ticket to see his homecoming. It will involve a trip down Main Street to the Kearney ancestral home, where he will be greeted by John Donovan, the owner of the house, and his family.

Mr Obama will then visit Ollie Hayes’ pub to meet extended family members including representatives of the Healy, Donovan and Benn families.

On his return to Dublin, Mr Obama will make an open air address at College Greenat the end of entertainment involving many well-known Irish artists. Security gates for the event will open at 2pm.

Large screens will be in place on College Green to enable all present to see those on stage. Mr Obama will fly out of Dublin on Tuesday to start a state visit to the UK.

PA