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First lady won't have time to visit schools

HOPES that Michelle Obama would visit schools during her husband Barack's visit here in a week were dashed last night.

Plans for her to visit schools around Dublin have been shelved amid concerns over the tight timeframe of the American presidential visit.

The couple are expected to arrive in Ireland on May 23 and spend a day between Dublin and Mr Obama's ancestral home in the village of Moneygall, Co Offaly.

It had been expected that Mrs Obama would have a separate itinerary to that of her husband.

A number of schools, including the Larkin Community College on Cathal Brugha Street in Dublin's north inner city, had been contacted by the US embassy and inspections were carried out by officials.

But there will now be no school visits. The Obamas will travel together for the entire day.

"At the beginning, they looked into various options for both,'' a source said.

Referring to possible US security difficulties, the source also said: ''No, it wasn't really to do with security concerns, it was just the limited 24 hours."

The US embassy said there was no confirmation of the itinerary or date of the visit.

Sean Spillane, deputy principal of Larkin Community College, said US embassy officials checked out the school.

"Without saying how live a prospect it was, we would have had a visit from the embassy people but then we were kind of left with, 'look, we'll come back to you'.

"The latest I have it is that it (a visit by Mrs Obama) is most unlikely on the basis of the security element of the whole thing.

"From what I read now is that the idea is to keep the two together and you have only one group to mind then."