independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Attempted 'attack' on Reagan in Irish visit kept secret for 30 years

Ronald Reagan: then-US president in Tipperary

US President Ronald Reagan narrowly avoided an attempted attack on him during his historic visit to Ireland in 1984. The incident has been secret for almost three decades.

However, former RTE employee Derek Davis has revealed an episode which could have become a major international incident had it not been for the quick actions of the US president's secret service.

Mr Davis was asked to perform as MC in Mr Reagan's ancestral home of Ballyporeen, Co Tipperary, for the visit on June 3, 1984.

He recalled that security was extremely tight in the village ahead of the visit given that Mr Reagan had narrowly survived an assassination attempt in 1981 when John Hinckley shot him as he left a Washington hotel.

As part of a documentary to be broadcast on Tipp FM this weekend, Mr Davis said Mr Reagan was still somewhat fragile when he arrived in Ballyporeen with his wife, Nancy.

"They (secret service) were very nervous at the time. Charm was not one of their gifts and their relationship with people on the ground was very poor," he recalled.

"Anecdotally, we were told there was a bit of a kerfuffle up the main street. Some nutter had attempted to shake hands with Reagan whilst holding a piece of broken glass.

"At one point, Reagan was completely surrounded by secret servicemen all in identical raincoats -- identical to his. They were all of a certain height, all of a certain build and all dressed identically and they milled around him," Mr Davis revealed.

"Interestingly Nancy was left on the outside of that ring."

The man apparently later admitted that he wanted to confront Mr Reagan over US foreign policy controversies.

'A Rainy Day in June' will be broadcast on Tipp FM this Saturday at 11am.

Irish Independent

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