Irish police provided excellent security during the 2011
visits of the Queen and President Obama.
Notre Dame and Navy have arrived in Dublin ahead of Saturday's opener to their college football seasons. Their fans are in town too. The papers say 35,000, but it seems like a lot more than that. There is a great, celebratory atmosphere in Dublin. It's fantastic.

I never doubted that those traveling from America would enjoy themselves in Dublin. It's not hard to entice Irish people to join in when a party arrives on their doorstep. There may not be a million college football fans in Dublin, but everybody here understands pre-game and post-game enjoyment. The Irish are famous in soccer and rugby circles for knowing exactly how to do these things.

The mood couldn't be lighter and I'm certainly not of a mind to dampen down that mood. However I want to spare a thought for the few people in and around Dublin who are probably feeling a lot more tense thanks to the presence of all these Americans, including thousands of United States Navy personnel - those charged with guaranteeing security over this weekend.

Obviously, there'll no real trouble from any of the visiting Americans and no serious trouble from Irish people either. That's one of the key reasons why the atmosphere around Dublin is good. Everybody knows there will be no trouble.

However, Ireland is part of Europe and as easily as the American fans traveled to Ireland so could those twisted few who belong to groups like al Qaeda. Of course, Ireland has had its own, so far thankfully light, brush with al Qaeda terrorism.
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Irish people have great faith in the gardaí and with good reason. Last year's visits of the Queen and President Obama went off without a hitch. Security was tight and effective. I'm sure the gardaí, Ireland's police force, with help from their colleagues in other European police forces have been working on their security arrangements for this weekend since this game was formally announced.

Yet, protecting one very important visitor is a different proposition to protecting thousands of visitors, especially when they're scattered throughout the city. The fact that the Americans will be so easy to identify, especially those in green pants or Navy uniforms, doesn't help the gardaí.

Tomorrow's game would be an obvious target if you were up to no good, but I expect security to be very tight around the stadium. I'm sure the gardaí have that well in hand. Same goes for the area around the USS Fort McHenry, which is in town as part of the Navy's Emerald Isle Classic celebration. Plus, the Navy knows how to protect its ships when in a foreign port.

I'm sure the gardaí are so prepared the they're unworried by either the game or the ship. No, I bet if anything is causing them restlessness it's all those fans wandering around Dublin, with the words "We're Americans" pretty much tattooed on their foreheads.

I expect the eyes under those peaked blue police caps will be keenly focused wherever groups of Americans gather. And come Monday morning I expect no one will be happier to see the American visitors happily on their way than those charged with protecting them this weekend.

{Photo thanks to the Irish Independent.}