Thursday 30 October 2014

Michelle's in class of her own with trip to school

First Lady lines up classroom visit when she comes to Dublin

Tom Brady and Fionnan Sheahan

Published 12/06/2013 | 05:00

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama with husband Barack and daughters Sasha and Malia

US First Lady Michelle Obama is lining up a visit to a school to talk to students during her trip to Dublin next week.

Contingency plans are being drawn up by senior garda officers in consultation with US Secret Service agents to safeguard Mrs Obama and her two daughters during their 24-hour visit to the capital.

Anti-terrorist chiefs have handpicked a team of officers to guard the Obama family as they travel around the city while US president Barack Obama attends the G8 summit in Co Fermanagh.

A tight security cordon will be thrown around the Obama entourage to prevent a repeat of the noisy demonstrations witnessed in central London yesterday when riot police stormed a building in Soho and made a total of 32 arrests.

Mr Obama is expected to appear at an event in Belfast with British prime minister David Cameron, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

SECURITY

The leaders of Canada and Japan will also be in Dublin either side of the summit.

The Obamas will fly into Belfast on Air Force One on Monday morning. And the First Lady and her daughters Sasha and Malia were expected in Dublin around midday.

Mrs Obama's itinerary for the visit has not yet been finalised but security at 14 separate possible locations have already been checked out by Garda Special Branch officers.

These are understood to include Trinity College Dublin, the National Library, the National Museum and other areas of cultural interest.

Gardai have also been briefed by officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the US Embassy about the possibility of a visit to a school in the capital.

Mrs Obama is a renowned campaigner, promoting healthy eating and exercise for schoolchildren.

But a firm decision on the visit has not yet been reached.

CONFRONTATION

The security and intelligence section at Garda Headquarters in the Phoenix Park were continuing to update their list of likely troublemakers who are expected to come here, and a close watch is being kept at air and sea ports as well as key Border crossings.

Gardai fear that the troublemakers will attempt to infiltrate demonstrations, organised by local protest groups, and use that cover to provoke confrontation.

One senior officer said last night: "We are preparing for every eventuality and there is close co-ordination between the security exercise in Dublin and Operation Shield, which covers the Border counties."

Mrs Obama and her children will stay at the Shelbourne Hotel before returning to Belfast on Tuesday morning. Earlier suggestions the family might visit the Obama ancestral home in the village of Moneygall on the Offaly-Tipperary border have been ruled out.

Meanwhile, Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper and Japanese prime minister Shinjo Abe will also be visiting Dublin around the time of the G8 Summit.

Mr Harper will be in the city from Saturday to Monday, going sightseeing and meeting with Mr Kenny and President Michael D Higgins.

Mr Abe will meet with the Taoiseach on Wednesday, after attending the two-day summit in Lough Erne.

Bette Browne: What will the Obama girls make of Ireland? Page 32

Irish Independent

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