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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Royal itinerary revealed but last-minute changes likely

Edel Kennedy

THE itinerary of Queen Elizabeth's historic visit has been published -- but it could be changed at the last minute for security reasons.

During the four-day visit the queen and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, will visit a number of sites in Dublin, Kildare, Tipperary and Cork.

However, in contrast to other state visits, the Government has not provided details of the times when she will arrive at each location.

The Irish Independent has also learned that the sequence of the events could also change at the last minute if there are concerns over the security of the royal party.

Details published yesterday show she will visit Aras an Uachtarain, the Garden of Remembrance and Trinity College on May 17, the first day of her visit. But some or all of these visits could happen in another sequence, or on another day, if a potential threat to her security is detected.

When visiting Northern Ireland, reporting restrictions about her itinerary are put in place, but on other state visits full details are released.

Restrictions are being put in place as gardai fear republican dissidents could use the historic tour as a backdrop for some form of attack.

"This has been cleared at the highest level, both politically and those involved in security," a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

The queen and her husband are scheduled to visit a number of sensitive sites. The queen also arrives on the 37th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in the Republic's history. On May 17, 1974, three no-warning car bombs detonated in Dublin amid crowds of evening commuters, while a fourth exploded outside a pub in Monaghan. A total of 33 people were killed.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adam's has said her arrival date is "particularly insensitive".

Gardai and the PSNI are also on high alert after renewed terrorist activity recently, including the murder of Catholic Constable Ronan Kerr on April 2. He died after a bomb exploded under his car in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

The royal trip will take in a tour of several historically significant sites in Dublin, including Croke Park, the scene of a massacre by British troops; and the Garden of Remembrance, which commemorates the 1916 rebels. A visit will also be made to the War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge -- which commemorates the Irish men who fought with the British army in World War One -- for an official wreath- laying ceremony.

She will also visit the National Stud in Kildare, the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary and the English Market and Tyndall Institute in Cork.

The royal party will fly into the Irish Air Corps base at Baldonnel in Dublin but return to the UK via Cork.

Irish Independent

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