Gardaí have all leave cancelled for week in April as President Biden to visit earlier than expected

US President Joe Biden

Robin Schiller

A nationwide ban has been placed on gardaí taking time off during the visit of the US President next month. has learned that gardaí across the country have tonight been informed that leave and rest days are restricted over the six-day period.

The directive, issued by Garda Headquarters, indicates that President Joe Biden will visit Ireland between April 10 and 15, which is earlier than had been originally anticipated on April 17.

During those dates gardaí of all ranks are restricted from taking leave or rest days, apart from in exceptional circumstances.

It also states that the restriction takes effect from today, meaning it won't impact gardaí who have already been granted annual leave.

The 46th President of the United States is travelling to Ireland to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

He is expected to spend the majority of his time in his ancestral Mayo, while also visiting Dublin, Belfast, and Louth, where he also has family connections.

A significant security operation will be in place on both sides of the border during the almost week long visit.

Specialist garda detectives will be assigned to provide Mr Biden close protection alongside the United States Secret Service.

Garda sniper teams will be also deployed to rooftops on all occasions when Mr Biden enters a public place, while public drain covers will be temporarily welded shut as a safety precaution.

As part of that policing operation Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has declared the visit an "extraordinary event", allowing for the restriction on leave and rest days in line with the provisions of their working time agreement.

Between April 10 and 15, both dates inclusive, all gardaí will be assigned to 12 hour shifts, and overtime will be paid in return for cancelled rest days.

Further policing plans are expected to be put in place once the official itinerary of Mr Biden's visit has been confirmed.

Gardaí have also been told to be "turned out in the highest traditions of An Garda Síochána" and ensure they are properly attired in accordance with regulations.

The trip will equal, and could surpass, the longest taken in his presidency so far. But his five days in the United Kingdom in 2021 were almost entirely political in nature, taking in a G7 meeting.

This will be a much more public-facing tour and the President is expected to be on walkabout in Ballina, where his ancestral family, the Blewitts, hail from.

Mr Biden will also spend time in Northern Ireland and last week it emerged that the PSNI had requested 330 officers from the rest of the UK to deal with the massive security operation.

Earlier this month the White House confirmed Mr Biden's visit on both sides of the border.

The US President also spoke about his support for the Good Friday Agreement during his meeting with the Taoiseach in the White House on St Patrick’s Day.