Starting tomorrow Dublin is going into lockdown as the city prepares for the visits of Queen Elizabeth II followed by President Obama over the next ten days. While the heightened security might be necessary, many Dublin residents (and tourists too, I imagine) are wondering if it's worth all the aggravation they have to endure.
Initially the reports of extra security were just shrugged off. It was more a smile than a grimce when we were informed that the gardaí (police) would be examining, and then sealing, all the manholes near where the Queen and President were scheduled to be in order to ensure that nothing (or no one) explosive could erupt from below. It was also reported that end-of-year exams at Trinity College were postponed for next week, but that was either just a rumor or the college changed its call. Students can get access to the college and exams are going ahead.
Trinity is closed, however, if you are not a student. So, no tours of the old campus and no chance to see the Book of Kells.
It's not just Trinity either. You want to visit Guinness's, Croke Park or the Zoo, well that might be a problem too. Better call ahead.
Those traveling by car will face road closures and parking restrictions. Even pedestrians will be affected as the gardaí are planning to erect barriers along some roads to restrict street crossing, something that is a real cramp in the style of jay-walking Dubliners. Oh, and pedestrians will be subject to random searches.
All of this is starting to get to people, some thinking it's excessive. Today there were rumors on Twitter of houses being searched in and around the center of the city, which had some people on edge regardless of whether it was true or not. The latest - and it's not a rumor - is that the gardaí have asked Dublin City Council to restrict the city's bike rental scheme. Why? I have no idea. I can't see what security implication bicycles might have, but there you have it. You shouldn't plan on using the excellent bike rental scheme next week either.
All in all, probably not an ideal week to visit Dublin. Closures and security annoyances probably not ideal for doing touristy things.
Oh yeah, on top of the two state visits, there are two significant soccer games during the period. First up, this Wednesday, Dublin is hosting the final of the Europa League, which features two Portuguese clubs and the following Tuesday the Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland meet in a Carling Nations Cup game.
Just a few extra security concerns for the gardaí. I'm sure they'll all be on edge until the 25th rolls around, at which point the city and its police force will exhale and get back to the normal easy-going manner Dublin is famous for. Til then, if you're visiting Ireland, maybe stick to other parts of the country.
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