The Republic of Ireland was apparently forced to spend into the millions of dollars on a massive security operation to protect First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters during their two-day trip to Dublin, according to Irish press reports.
The visit can only be described as a vacation, given that Michelle and the girls took in a show, researched their family roots, went out for dinner, had lunch with Bono, and toured a national park. Had Mrs. Obama stayed with the president in Northern Ireland where he was attending to G-8 Summit, Ireland would have been spared the added expenses and the inconvenience of having part of Dublin on lockdown.
According to the Irish Times, the Republic of Ireland spent some $5 million on G-8 related activities. The major portions of the spending were to secure the border with Northern Ireland near the area where the summit was being held and to protect Michelle. It’s not clear how much of the total went to security for Michelle, but her protection is described as a significant undertaking.
Streets were sealed off in Dublin near the Shelborne hotel in the city center, where Mrs. Obama stayed. In addition to those guarding checkpoints and the first lady herself, some 300 Irish police were put on “standby” in case of disturbance in Dublin, while others were maintained on the ready in case of problems when she and her daughters visited the Wicklow Mountains National Park.
The Obamas next week depart for a week-long trip to Africa, where vacation activities are also in the works. The Obamas were forced to cancel what would have perhaps been the greatest excess, a Secret Service-protected African safari. The Safari would have been Michelle’s second as first lady.
Here’s some video of the visit to the Trinity College library, where the girls were presented apparently thrilling evidence of their father’s Irish roots.