OVER the past weeks, An Garda Siochana has been involved in planning and implementing the largest-ever policing operation in our history. The challenges were many and we faced many hurdles.
But by harnessing the strengths and experience of a well-trained police force, we found the right balance between facilitating the visits of our important guests and allowing the community to participate and enjoy this important period in Irish life.
My whole organisation responded to the challenges and clearly focused on delivering a robust policing plan to meet the requirements of all those involved and affected by the visits of Queen Elizabeth and President Barack Obama. Thousands of gardai worked long hours in difficult conditions and showed high levels of patience and resilience.
I am immensely proud of the force that I lead. Our colleagues in the Defence Forces deserve a special mention as they were of huge assistance to us.
We are also very grateful to key organisations, including the other emergency services, the health services, the business community, local authorities, public transport companies and civic authorities. I was honoured during the visit of Queen Elizabeth to be invited to a private audience with her and Prince Philip. She thanked me and all members of An Garda Siochana for our work in policing her visit to Ireland.
The operation over the period of the two visits involved in excess of 8,000 gardai, who were drawn from all over the country. Travel and accommodation had to be arranged, which involved 12,000 personnel movements, reserving 15,000 beds in five hotels and arranging catering at numerous locations in Dublin, Kildare, Tipperary and Cork.
We know that people were inconvenienced by some of the traffic restrictions. But we were met with goodwill and good humour from people who were entering into the spirit of the events and we were also both overwhelmed and humbled by the number of positive messages we received from members of the public.
It was an important moment for our country as the eyes of the world looked on. Ireland did itself proud and I am proud that the men and women of An Garda Siochana played a key part in making that possible.
* A longer version of this article can be read online at www.independent.ie