The Queen of England is arriving in Dublin tomorrow. I hadn’t spoken about it particularly at home. However, as we live in an exciting part of town, I recently realised that this information vacuum was being filled by what herself was reading on the lamp posts – “No Queen in the city of ’16”, for example. So I explained to them that this was a historic and welcome step in the normalisation of relations between two countries and so on.
The first intimations I had that this was likely to be deeply inconvenient historic step etc. etc. came some time later. Normally when the Queen [or ‘an Bhanríon Eilís’ as she is known in communications from our school] goes to places, children give her flowers. School children in Dublin whose schools are near places she is to visit are being given the day off. Instead of our children greeting her with flowers, I gather that there is to be a sniper on the roof to keep the Queen safe. This has, understandably, made her visit hugely popular with the children and it seems unlikely, at this point that Barack Obama’s historic visit next week [yes, really, next week] will measure up. Unless, that is, he goes to the same places and the CIA insist that the school is closed again, in which case, I will cry.
I understand from a friend of mine who is on the Western Circuit that prosecutions have stopped as there isn’t a Guard in left the West of Ireland. They’ve all been moved to Dublin for the impending back to back State visits. This morning, most of these Guards appeared to be posted in the centre of Dublin between our home and the children’s school. I am forced to confess that if I were looking for dissident republicans in Dublin, I would certainly start in our postcode area and areas adjacent. It’s a bit unfortunate that two of the Queen’s official engagements take her into the heart of these areas. I suppose that she’s been in more dangerous places, Northern Ireland leaps to mind but still, I wouldn’t fancy it myself, if I were her. Of course, if I were her, I would have abdicated years ago, so, quite different personality types then.
This morning, the traffic was dreadful with many roads sealed off. In the car, on the radio [as opposed to in person, ok you knew that], the Garda Commissioner refused to comment on whether British police would be lining the streets of Dublin and reinforcing Gardai. But he made positive noises about co-operation and excellent working relationships with British counterparts.
We abandoned the car some distance from our destination and skipped through bizarrely car free streets to the school, being diverted several times on the way. On the way we saw authorities hacking away at foliage with untoward vigour. Doubtless more security measures. At the final hurdle a guard seemed to have been authorised to let us in and he ushered us through saying cheerfully, “Brostaigí!” [Hurry up]. Michael turned to him and said, in tones of amazement, “You’re English, but you know Irish!” The Guard was somewhat baffled, as was I, until I recalled the discussion on the radio. This you realise, is 24 hours BEFORE the monarch’s plane touches down on Irish soil. As we were going around several windy blocks [with Daniel complaining bitterly that he was freezing but that he wouldn’t wear that coat because he didn’t like it], she was quite possibly sitting in Buckingham Palace having toast. I suppose that’s a perk of a job that involves being protected by snipers.
Apparently, there is no private car access to one of the city’s main maternity hospitals for security reasons on Tuesday and Wednesday. Trained obstetricians will be posted on the street corners to make sure that those approaching the hospital on foot are really pregnant [ok, I made that up].
And the Queen’s visit has even more momentous counsequences, on Wednesday, the children are going to school but will not be able to leave the school premises during school hours. What is the problem with this you ask? Well, it was to be the occasion of one of the final church rehearsals for Saturday’s First Communion and they have been unexpectedly confined to base. The múinteoir is apparently tearing her hair out. I think that they still had quite a bit of rehearsal to go. My suggestion to herself that they might spend the time in prayer and spiritual preparation fell on distinctly stony soil.
I also work in the city centre and ever more alarming press releases have been circulated on to staff from the Garda press office and public transport providers.
Edited highlights from Press Release circulated last week [my comments in brackets]:
There will be diversions and rolling road closures which will be flagged in advance.
For security reasons, there will be periodic searches of pedestrians and vehicles by members of An Garda Síochána at key locations.
The following roads are among the routes that will be subject to temporary closures at various times between 17 May and 20 May 2011 (full details to be notified to the public when finalised and closer to the time):
N7, N4 and M50 [i.e. main routes out of the City to the South and the motorway around Dublin – the M50 is to Dublin what the M25 is to London]
Phoenix Park [Apparently, the Phoenix park is closed for 2 weeks. For 2 WEEKS – this is the Queen and Barack Obama combined – they are both staying there [sequentially, obviously, otherwise the protocol and logistics might kill us all]. Problems with this include the following: it’s a huge amenity for the city – I think it’s the largest city park in Europe – it has the zoo, playgrounds, cricket pitches, polo fields, GAA grounds, parkland, deer, the President’s house, a hospital, a main road running through the middle of it, the US ambassador’s residence and a residence for visiting dignataries. You can see how those last two have turned out to be more problematic than planned. My sister tells me that every time I phone her, I say, “Do you know that they’re going to close the Phoenix Park for 2 WEEKS?”]
North and South Quays, and adjacent bridges and streets. [All the traffic in Dublin flows along the quays, stop the quays, nothing moves anywhere – yeah, I know, great system].
There will be no parking in the following areas from 06:00 on Saturday 14 May [i.e. the Saturday before the Tuesday on which the Queen’s plane touches down] to Friday 20 May 2011. Barriers will be placed along all or some of these routes over the same time period:
Chesterfield Avenue, North Quays, South Quays, Parkgate Street, O’ Connell Street, Parnell Square (All Sides), D’Olier Street, Westmoreland Street, College Street, Grafton Street, Nassau Street, South Leinster Street, Lincoln Place,Westland Row, Pearse Street, Bridge Street, High Street, Cornmarket, Thomas Street,
James’s Street, Crane Street, Bellevue, Lord Edward Street, Dame Street, Conyngham Rd, Rainsford Street, Christchurch Place, South Circular Road (Con Colbert rd – Conyngham Rd), Beresford Place, Gardiner Street, Mountjoy Square, Fitzgibbon Street, Russell Street, Jones Rd, Memorial Rd, Castle Street, Werburgh Street, Ship Street, Stephen St, Guild Street, Sherriff Street Upper
[This is essentially, EVERY street in the city centre.]
And then, if you were thinking of taking the tram, the following turned up in inboxes:
On Tuesday May 17 2011 the Luas Red Line service, (Tallaght to Connolly and The Point Stops) will run as normal between Tallaght and Connolly until 13:00pm. From 13:00pm till 17. 15pm service will operate between Tallaght and Blackhorse Stops only. Please also note, Luas Abbey Street Stop on Tuesday May 17 will be closed from 5.30am to 17:15pm Passengers are advised to watch this website (www.luas.ie) for updated information. Similarly, there will be Red Line service changes on Wednesday May 18 2011. Luas Red line service will operate normally from Tallaght to Connolly stop until 8.25am. From 8.25am till later in the evening, approximately 16.25pm the service will operate between Tallaght and Blackhorse Stop only.
And then, the rail services added their mite:
Full services will operate across DART, Commuter & Intercity, with the following alterations:
There will be some brief suspension of services between Connolly and Pearse at the request of Gardaí for security reasons, at the following times:
10.45hrs-11.15hrs; 14.30hrs-15.00hrs, 15.30hrs-16.00hrs
During these times, northside services will operate from Howth / Malahide and Drogheda to and from Connolly Station; and Southside services will operate from Bray and Greystones to and from Pearse Station, meaning customers will still be able to travel to and from the city. There will also be delays to Maynooth line services.
Maynooth services will not serve Drumcondra Station between 10.30hrs and 16.00hrs on Wednesday 18th May. Trains will operate to a full schedule, but will not stop at Drumcondra.
Europa League Final
At the request of the Gardaí, for security reasons, Lansdowne Road Station will be closed from 17.00hrs to 20.00hrs on Wednesday 18th May, the evening of the UEFA Europa League Final.
Customers should travel to and from Grand Canal Dock Station or Sandymount Station during this time.
Did you like the way the Europa League Final is also scheduled? Is it any wonder that there are no Guards left in the West?