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Stage set for Obama 'homecoming' queens

ALL leave is cancelled in the Department of Foreign Affairs between now and the end of June. The news that Michelle Obama and the two girls, Sasha and Malia, might well be travelling to Ireland when the US President heads to Fermanagh for the two-day G8 summit on June 17 and 18 would definitely inject a bit of much-needed colour and pizazz into the whole palaver.

For if they do come to Ireland, the Obama lassies will have a programme of events of their own while Poppa Barack talks shop with other world leaders – and one which may well include a trip to the family homestead in Moneygall.

But it seems that Michelle won't be the only G8 spouse to accompany the various government heads of the other member countries of Britain, Russia, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and Canada, and each of them will have a planned itinerary.

And what's more, some of the principals have also expressed the desire to do and see stuff in the Republic, either before or after the summit, so the unflappable DFA staff may have to rustle up a few stallions on stand-by in case Vladimir Putin fancies a quick hack up Croagh Patrick, or organise spare togs for Angela Merkel in case she fancies a dip in the Forty Foot.

For a good photo-opportunity can be worth a thousand tourists – ever since China's premier Xi Jinping (then the deputy premier) was snapped by the Cliffs of Moher during his trip here last year, busloads of Chinese tourists have begun to visit the site to have their photos taken in the same spot.

So the busy bees in Foreign Affairs are bracing themselves for a hectic month. And two days after the G8 summit ends, a clatter of Kennedys are due to descend on New Ross for a big hooley to commemorate the 50th anniversary of JFK's visit.

Let's hope the weather holds.

Irish Independent