Irish Republican News · May 20, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Ireland braces for whirlwind Obama visit

This coming Monday, May 23, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will arrive in Ireland for an official state visit, the highlight of which is likely to be a stop in the tiny village of Moneygall.

The county Offaly village is the birthplace of Obama’s great-great-great grandfather Falmouth Kearney, son of the village shoemaker, who emigrated to New York in 1850.

Exhausted by the physical and psychological clampdown over the visit by ‘the Queen’, there is concern over the security restrictions required by the US President.

At least 50 U.S. officials and security personnel arrived in a village Moneygall which has already been redecorated for the occasion.

U.S. media outlets CNN, ABC, BBC, Reuters, the Boston Globe and Time magazine are among the many outlets that arrived in the village on Monday to prepare for the international coverage that, it is hoped, wll sell Ireland as an attrctive tourism destination to US viewers. It is understood White House staffers also see the visit as an important element in Obama’s re-election campaign.

The Dublin government announced yesterday that, unlike the Windsor visit, members of the public will have access to an event in College Green in Dublin at which Mr Obama will speak on Monday.

The president will speak from behind a plexiglass screen for security reasons and metal scanners will be in operation, amid concerns over a possible al-Qaeda revenge attack for the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

As details of Mr Obama’s itinerary emerged yesterday, US army aircraft have begun arriving at Dublin airport as part of the logistical back-up for the one-day visit.

Mr Obama is due to arrive at the airport on Air Force One shortly before 10am on Monday.

The president will then make a courtesy call on President Mary McAleese at Aras an Uachtarain, before travelling within the Phoenix Park to Farmleigh, where he will call on Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the Government’s guest residence.

He will meet privately with US embassy staff. Weather permitting, he will then travel by helicopter to Moneygall.

An hour has been allocated for this visit, during which Mr Obama will have a pint poured for him in a local pub and -- unlike the British royals -- will take a sip.

The public event at College Green, is scheduled to begin at 5pm, but this start time could be pushed later. A number of rock, pop, traditional and classical music and spoken word artists will warm up the crowd for an hour before his speech.

In his speech, expected to last 15 to 20 minutes, Mr Obama is expected to highlight the ties between Ireland and the US.

Large screens will be in place on College Green to enable all present to see those on stage.

There has also been speculation that Mr Obama will stop off at the O’Connell memorial in Glasnevin cemetary, possibly on his way in from Dublin airport, to acknowledge the inspirational influence the Liberator had on former US slave turned social reformer and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass during his stay in Ireland in the mid-1800s.

Obama will fly out of Dublin at 10.25am on Tuesday to start a state visit to Britain.

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© 2011 Irish Republican News