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Thursday 14 December 2017

Gardai step up security plans ahead of Queen Elizabeth's visit

Paul Melia and Ralph Riegel

GARDAI have already met with their UK counterparts to discuss security arrangements for the state visit of Queen Elizabeth next month.

The Garda Press Office last night confirmed meetings had been held with UK security services, but said it would not reveal details of the massive security operation.

The visit next month is expected to cost millions of euro as republican groups including Eirigi plan a series of demonstrations while up to 40 Islamic extremists living here will also be monitored.

Senior garda anti-terrorist officers have started drafting contingency plans for the queen's security and it is likely that leave will be cancelled for a large portion of the force during her stay here.

The four-day visit runs from May 17 to May 20 next, and includes visits to Aras an Uachtarain, a ceremony at the Garden of Remembrance, a courtesy call on the Taoiseach at Government Buildings and a State dinner in Dublin Castle.

The programme will also include events at Trinity College Dublin, at the National War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge, the Guinness Storehouse, Croke Park and the Irish National Stud.

The queen and Prince Philip will also visit Cashel and Cork.

Every area the queen will visit will be swept in advance for security purposes and will involve significant garda manpower.

Gardai will also focus on dissident republican groups who are planning street demonstrations during the queen's visit.

Officers are concerned that a visit would be used by groups such as the Real IRA, the self-styled Oglaigh na hEireann and the Continuity IRA to stage an attack or mount a propaganda "spectacular" to take advantage of the worldwide publicity that is likely to surround the visit.

Officers from London's Metropolitan Police provide a royal-protection squad, which travels with the monarch at all times.

Close protection is expected to be provided by garda special units, while the Army Ranger Wing using snipers -- some in helicopters with .5 heavy calibre sniper rifles able to kill at over a mile -- will be deployed for close protection of residences where she will stay.

US President Barack Obama is expected to arrive just days later on May 22, and senior gardai are believed to be engaged in high-level talks with their counterparts in the United States in advance of the presidential visit.

Irish Independent

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