Bomb disposal teams and Navy on standby for visits
THE Defence Forces are being put through their paces ahead of next month's visits by Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth.
Security arrangements for the two trips, which come within a week of each other in May, are currently being made and involve ground, sea and air units.
As with previous visits by heads of state to Ireland, there will be special search teams on the ground to scour locations such as the airports, Aras an Uachtarain, the Garden of Remembrance -- and any other sites on the itineraries of the visiting dignitaries.
The security plans have been described as "very sensitive". However, the Irish Independent understands bomb disposal teams, the Naval Service, divers and special search teams have already been mobilised.
The Army Ranger Wing will provide close protection of the residences where the VIPs will be staying, snipers with AW50 heavy calibre rifles will be used in helicopters, and the rangers will also have a counter-terrorist assault team on standby.
Soldiers from the Air Defence Regiment with RBS-70 surface-to-air missiles, Giraffe air defence radar and Bofors EL-70 anti aircraft guns will secure airports where the queen and Mr Obama will land, most likely to be Baldonnel and Dublin Airport.
Naval Service ships will be positioned off Dublin to secure sea routes and provide additional surveillance with their radars, while the Air Corps will use armed PC-9 aircraft and helicopters carrying special forces troops to patrol air exclusion zones.
Army anti-riot squads backed up by Mowag armoured vehicles will be on standby in barracks in Dublin in case they are required by the gardai.
The Defence Forces will also have a ceremonial part to play in the visits of Mr Obama and Queen Elizabeth, with the Artillery Corps providing 21 gun salutes, while cadets will form guards of honour, and the 2 Cavalry squadron will provide motorcycle escorts. Yesterday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dail he could not give an estimate as to the cost to the taxpayers of the visits as the details had not yet been finalised.
He was responding to a query from People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett who said it was wrong for the Irish people to pay for a "jamboree" for "one of the richest women in the world".
Mr Kenny, however, insisted that the visits should be seen as an investment in Ireland's future.