THERE will be a no-fly zone over parts of Kildare this week as speculation mounted that the Queen may take a helicopter to the National Stud to avoid any potential security threats.
The biggest security operation in the history of the State will see over 600 gardai deployed in the county. Kilcullen will be shut down for most of Thursday, there will be traffic diversions around Kildare town and restricted traffic flow on the N7 and M7.
Up to 2,000 army and navy personnel will be involved in the operation. The number of bomb disposal teams will be stepped up and the skies will be monitored by state-of-the-art surveillance technology. The naval service will also post rigid inflatable boats on the River Liffey while the Army Ranger Wing Special Force will be on stand by.
The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) confirmed that with some authorised exceptions, there will be no normal flying or training at Weston Airport near Leixlip.
IAA spokesperson, Lilian Cassin said airspace restrictions would also be enforced within a 30 aeronautical mile radius of the Curragh area, on Thursday, 19 May.
Details of the Queen’s route are being revealed on a day-to-day basis due to security concerns. At the time of going to print, the Queen was expected to travel down the N7 to the National Stud, Kildare town on Thursday morning however, there is speculation that those plans may change. It is understood she may fly to the stud but then travel by car to Kilcullen and on to Gilltown Stud depending on the views of security chiefs.
To allow her the fastest access possible, eight speed ramps have been ripped up in Kilcullen. The ramps, which are estimated to have cost in the region of E120,000 to install, were removed by Kildare County Council as instructed by the gardai.
Irish National Stud Chief Executive, John Osborne has expressed regret that more local people cannot attend the visit.
“The big disappointment for myself personally, and for a lot of people, is that there is such limited access and it has been a source of disappointment and discontent. There is such a large media presence and the fact that we have such an awkward site, there is a tight restriction on numbers. That is a pity.”
Those in line to meet the Queen will be Brian Kavanagh from Horse Racing Ireland, Michael O’Hagan of Irish Thoroughbred Marketing; County Manager, Michael Malone; as well as TDs Martin Heydon, Jack Wall and Sean O’Fearghail. Mr Osborne said there were lots of people they wanted to invite, but couldn’t because of the restrictions which had to imposed.
See special news report in this week’s Leinster Leader