Notre Dame is going to play Navy at the new soccer/rugby stadium in Dublin on September 1, 2012. It will be a great occasion, but not one without some not-so-serious and very serious security implications.
In America Notre Dame vs Navy is simply a college football game. Nothing more. That will probably not be the case here because Navy is, after all, part of the United States Navy, which is, as we all know, part of the 'American death machine.' I fully expect tens of people from the usual anti-American rent-a-crowd to turn up to protest at the presence of the Navy's midshipmen in Dublin.
Those protesters will be annoying, at most, but nothing the local police force can't handle. However, there is a far more spine-chilling threat that the Irish government and gardaí (Ireland's police force) will have to devote a great deal of time and energy on: al Qaeda and friends.
Is it likely al Qaeda will target the game? I don't really know, but I do know that there are very few opportunities in Europe where 30,000 Americans, including possibly thousands in the military, are gathered in one place. Yet, that's exactly what we'll have here on September 1, 2012.
I have great faith in the gardaí and I trust the Irish government to do their damnedest to guarantee the security of all the Americans who come to Dublin for the game, but nothing is 100% certain. And although the game was only formally announced this week, the details are as they were when it was first mooted back in 2005. Seven years is a long time if you wanted to plan something.
Of course, it isn't just the few hours during the game that the police will have to be worried about, but the whole weekend. Back in 1996 when ND and Navy last played here Dublin seemed to be filled with Americans, many in uniform. The city will have to be on alert the whole weekend.
I don't want to put you off coming for the game. I hope to see you all there. Just don't be surprised if you see A LOT of police personnel while you're here.
Oh, while I'm at it, I'd like to recommend that this game be called the Commodore John Barry Bowl. He was, after all, an Irish Catholic and the father of the American Navy. What could be more appropriate?