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Parking chaos expected for duration of VIP trips

Parking restrictions for next week's VIP visits will apply to a number of key locations from Saturday.

And some will remain in operation until after US President Barack Obama has left the country -- 10 days later.

Gardai will make a detailed announcement on the parking bans and temporary road and street closures later today.

Officers said last night that many of the restrictions will be for limited periods but crucial areas, such as parts of Dublin city centre and along the quays, will be affected for longer.

Apart from helping with the massive security arrangements, the early start to the restrictions will also have a psychological effect on motorists and make it easier to implement the more extended restrictions next week, gardai believe.

Residents in affected areas will get permits to allow them to carry on with their daily business.

An estimated 40 kilometres of barriers will be erected to seal off the routes.

Several roads and streets will also be closed off for a few hours while the VIPs are here, beginning on Tuesday when Queen Elizabeth arrives at Baldonnel aerodrome, and will mainly affect Dublin for the first two days of her visit.

On Thursday, the M7 motorway and roads around Kildare, the Curragh and Kilcullen will be cleared for a short time while similar measures will be in place on Friday in Tipperary and Cork.

Temporary closures will resume on Monday, May 23, when Mr Obama arrives and will end the following day. These will be in Dublin and in Moneygall, Co Offaly.

It is expected that Mr Obama will travel to Moneygall by helicopter because of the short duration of his stay here.

Eight thousand gardai are now being deployed with a large detachment of troops available to back up gardai, particularly in Kildare, while key parts of the overall operation will be handled separately by the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service.

Although motorists will be encouraged to use public transport, where possible, some services will also be limited on Dublin Bus, Luas and Bus Eireann schedules.

Details of Mr Obama's itinerary will only be finalised in the next couple of days. Contingency plans are also being put in place with decisions on routes and travel arrangements to be used by the US president left to the last minute.

Meanwhile, former checkout cashier Mary Byrne will get her chance to sing for royalty at a concert to celebrate the queen's visit in the Convention Centre in Dublin's docklands.

RTE presenter Gay Byrne will compere the show on Thursday, May 19, at which Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh will be guests of honour, along with 2,000 invited guests, representing the worlds of sport, politics, business and entertainment.

Westlife, The Chieftains, Eimear Quinn, Riverdance and the National Symphony Orchestra are also included in the line-up while actors will read from Irish literary greats and a fashion parade will showcase some of the country's top designers.

"What an honour it is to be asked to sing in front of the queen," Ms Byrne said. "I am so excited, and a little nervous to be honest."

Irish Independent