Saturday 20 January 2018

Gardaí and PSNI step up security plans for visit of Prince Charles

Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall arrive at Westminster Abbey
Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall arrive at Westminster Abbey

Greg Harkin

Security for the visit of Prince Charles to Ireland this week has been stepped up further with extra resources deployed as fears grow of plans by dissident terrorists to disrupt it.

The Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, arrive in Ireland tomorrow with a number of engagements in Co Clare and Co Galway before spending a second day in Co Sligo.

That will include a visit to Mullaghmore on Wednesday where Charles's great uncle Lord Mountbatten was killed in a 1979 Provisional IRA bomb.

Dissident gangs have stepped up their activities in recent weeks, particularly in the North where the royal couple have a number of engagements on Thursday and Friday.

Security sources say they are confident about the arrangements for the visit but extra resources are being brought into the west to help manage that security.

"There will be wide security cordons and this will cause disruption for a few hours at each location where Charles and Camilla visit," said one security source.

Anti-terror officers on both sides of the Border have been in constant contact over the movement of several well-known dissidents.

The importance of the visit to the peace process however was emphasised by former President Mary McAleese.

She said she expects the Mullaghmore visit to be special to Charles, who is making his third visit to Ireland. "He is coming on a very special pilgrimage of remembrance," said Mrs McAleese. "This man was his mentor and of course Lord Mountbatten didn't have any sons and so he had a very special affection for Prince Charles," she told an RTÉ documentary last night.

The former President also discussed Britain's Queen Elizabeth and her visit here in 2011.

Mrs McAleese said it was only then she realised how much a visit to Ireland meant to the monarch who had said she wanted to be part of the peace process. She said she sees the visit by Prince Charles as a way to continue the work that started when his mother came here four years ago.

Final preparations for the visit to Mullaghmore are being made. Gardaí have had a visible presence in the Co Sligo village for the past two weeks, with back-up from armed colleagues.

Detectives and uniformed officers are being brought to the North West from around the country to support security for the visit.

Local people have also been preparing for the royal couple with a clean-up around the village. Paddy Donnelly, who runs the local supermarket and gift shop not far from where the Shadow V was berthed, said: "What happened was stupid, but it is fantastic to see that Charles is prepared to visit. I am sure there is going to be big security operation on the day but people here aren't worried about that.

"He will walk outside my shop to visit where Shadow V was moored. Shadow V was built locally in Lomax's boatyard. The owner died recently.

"I hope Charles drops in. It would be a bit of fun if he did. Poles are being painted and the grass is being cut in time.

"It's amazing that Charles is coming here. That will be a huge boost to Mullaghmore. It will be brilliant. Even the queen's visit to Ireland brought a huge number of visitors, even to Mullaghmore. Visitors we talked to said they were here because the queen was in Ireland.

"It's sad the tragedy happened here; we want people to come here for the scenery, just as Lord Mountbatten did."

Irish Independent

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