Largest ever Irish security operation begins

30/04/2004 09:05:29

The largest ever security operation ever mounted in the Irish republic is shifting into top gear ahead of celebrations marking the EU accession of ten new member states.

The focal point for tomorrow`s festivities is Dublin`s Phoenix Park, where EU dignitaries will gather at Farmleigh House.

The vast site, which also houses Áras An Úachtarán; the official residence of the President of Ireland; will be
sealed off later tonight for up to 36 hours.

The co-incidence of accession day with May 1, traditionally a day that sees anarchists the world over protest against globalisation and capitalism, has been a cause for concern; despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of protesters are peaceful riots and vandalism have become commonplace in large cities, and in places (such as Dublin this weekend) where political events of major international importance are taking place.

All Garda leave has been cancelled for the weekend and thousands of extra officers have been based in Dublin in anticipation of trouble. Arrests have already been made. Troops from the Irish army will also be stationed in the capital, with a special view towards protecting Áras an Úachtarán and Farmleigh but also to provide heavy-duty back-up for gardaí should the situation warrant it.

Yesterday, gardaí in Dublin demonstrated new water-canon which may be pressed into use if trouble arises.

Concern has been expressed as to whether Dublin`s health service can handle a major emergency if there is an outbreak of violence.

The Irish Nurses Organisation fears staffing levels are not high enough to meet increased demands.

The INO fears that precautionary health care measures are not in line with those put in place to maintain law and order.

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