A new documentary about the late President Ronald Reagan’s visit to Ireland recounts how the Secret Service prevented an attack on the President during his visit in 1984.
A man holding a concealed broken piece of glass tried to shake hands with the president after breaching a secure area where the president was standing in his ancestral town of Ballyporeen in Tipperary, ready to address an audience.
MC for the event Derek Davis recounts in a new documentary about the visit that said Mr Reagan was still “somewhat fragile" when he arrived in Ballyporeen with his wife, Nancy after an 1981 assassination attempt left him injured.
"They (secret service) were very nervous at the time. Charm was not one of their gifts and their relationship with people on the ground was very poor," he recalled.
"Anecdotally, we were told there was a bit of a kerfuffle up the main street. Some nutter had attempted to shake hands with Reagan whilst holding a piece of broken glass.
"At one point, Reagan was completely surrounded by secret servicemen all in identical raincoats -- identical to his. They were all of a certain height, all of a certain build and all dressed identically and they milled around him," Mr Davis revealed.
"Interestingly Nancy was left on the outside of that ring."
The member of the crowd pushed beyond security barriers and attempted to force his way into an area that was occupied by the president and his party.
Reagan was the target of many protestors especially for his handling of Central American issues such as El Salvador and Nicaragua where he funded right-wing parties and militias.
The attempted attack was, of course, thwarted by the Secret Service and has been kept under wraps since the incident. It has only since come to light in the new documentary which marks 28 years since the President’s visit to Tipperary.
More famously, three years prior to his visit to Tipperary, President Reagan was the target of another assassination attempt. On March 30 1981, just 69 days into his presidency, Reagan and members of his team were shot at by John Hinckley, Jr outside of the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC.
Though President Reagan did sustain a punctured lung and heavy internal bleeding as a result of the shooting, he recovered fully. Several members of his entourage, many of whom were Irish American, also sustained injuries.
White House Press Secretary at the time, James Brady, was the first to be shot, receiving a bullet in his head, which ultimately left him paralyzed.
Thomas Delahunty, a police officer for the District of Columbia, was the second to be shot and was hit in the back of his neck as he turned to protect President Reagan. The bullet in Delahunty’s neck had to be removed on the scene for fear that it would explode within his body.
Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy was the fourth to be shot as he spread his body over the President to protect him.
John Hinckley, Jr was found not guilty of the assassination attempt by way of insanity and has since been confined to a mental institution.
'A Rainy Day in June' was broadcast on Tipp FM.
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