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3,000 officers to stand guard in big crackdown

MORE than 3,000 gardai will be deployed to protect Queen Elizabeth next month, the Herald can reveal.

But Dublin-based garda officers will not form part of the force's riot squad because they will be needed as "spotters" and intelligence-gatherers to seek out trouble-makers during the royal tour of Dublin.

Senior security sources say that the force wants to use officers from outside Dublin to man the riot unit to counter any street disturbances.

Already the gardai are preparing for the tour by visiting 150 homes around Croke Park. The queen will attend a ceremony at the home of the GAA on May 18.

Families have been asked to provide their names, date of births and details of everyone who is living in the houses around the stadium in advance of the royal visit.

But the security sources have told the Herald that their biggest concern is focused on the previous day, when the queen takes part in a highly symbolic wreath laying ceremony at Dublin's Garden of Remembrance.





Pressure

It is understood all the buildings overlooking the gardens in Parnell Square have been checked out by Special Branch officers as preparations are made to protect the queen and Prince Philip.

"The Garden of Remembrance is the principal pressure point for this visit," one security source said.

"Everyone working and living in the Georgian houses facing the garden are being vetted at present.

"No one wants to take any chances. The dissidents can't be allowed to get anything from this visit."

Hardline republicans have vowed to disrupt the visit, with one ex-Continuity IRA prisoner and senior Republican Sinn Fein figure describing the queen as a "legitimate target".

Gardai will also be monitoring traffic from Northern Ireland in the run-up to the royal couple's arrival. Last weekend up to 300 dissident republican supporters travelled down from the North for a fundraising function in Dublin on Easter Saturday night.

Security forces fear the Real IRA, Continuity IRA and Oghlaigh na hEireann -- the three main republican terror groups -- will bus in hundreds of supporters to riot in Dublin close to the various sights the royals will visit during their tour.

hnews@herald.ie


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