Visit sparks biggest security operation in history of State
Published 25/06/2004 | 00:11
SECURITY sources say they are ready "for whatever comes our way" as reports emerge that anti-war groups will endeavour to grab worldwide attention during the visit of US President George Bush this weekend.
Among reports emerging is that a small group of protesters will attempt to destabilise radar equipment by launching large helium balloons to confuse radar systems.
A spokesperson added: "This security plan has been in place for many months. There has been a lot of monitoring certain groups and individuals.
"We are very conscious of everything that happens in the world at this particular time and we are not operating in isolation here.
"At the same time we are not trying to scaremonger. We would always be worried about infiltration.
"The vast majority of people will be here to make a very peaceful protest, as is their democratic right, but there is always a danger other people with different agendas completely will infiltrate it."
Thousands of protesters will march the four miles from Bunratty to Shannon, arriving just ahead of the US delegation departure on board Air Force One at around 2.30pm.
Meanwhile, gardai and the Irish Army yesterday were putting in place final arrangements for the visit, including the arrival of the last of some 2,500 members of the defence forces. The security operation, which is the biggest in the history of the State, is being headed up by gardai, who will have some 3,800 officers in the Shannon area over the weekend.
Navy gunships, meanwhile, were patrolling the Shannon Estuary, while garda water boats were also patrolling the River Shannon as far as Limerick City.
All radar and air-traffic control stations in the region were also being closely guarded by armed security.