How effective was it and what was its purpose
For weeks before the Bush visit the government and the mdia were going on about the need for extensive security for the Bush visit. The threat to the US President was real and had to be dealt with accordingly. Those in the anti-war movement argued that the security operation had more to do with preventing peaceful protest than anything else. I am outlining some of my experience of the security around Shannon
In the weeks preceeding the Bush visit the Gardai visited every house in Shannon taking details of occupants, car details and possible visitors over the weekend. This was necessary we were told for security and the residents of Shannon would be issued a pass to get in and out of the town. Instead of these passes being issued to each resident, people had to queue sometimes for up to half an hour or more outside the Garda station to collect passes. Many people queued and were then told they didn't need a pass because they had no car. Scorpion tanks were deployed as if Al Qa'ida were intending to launch a ground offensive
I drove in and out of Shannon 14 times last Friday and 8 times on Saturday. At different times I drove in two different cars, neither of which displayed the necessary pass. I was never stopped.
On Saturday I attended the demo at Dromoland. Traffic from Limerick was being diverted through Sixmilebridge, Kilmurray and Quin to Clarecastle. However on Saturday morning the road from Kilmurray to Quin was blocked off, forcing people to drive approx an extra 10 miles to Tulla and back through Ennis to get to the Demo. On arriving at Clarecastle we were stopped at a Garda checkpoint and refused access up the road to the assembly point even though this had previously been agreed with the Gardai. When I dared to phone Supt. Kerins to ask him why we were not being allowed access to the assembly point I was threatened with arrest by the Garda sargent on the checkpoint. We then had to go back into Clarecastle park and walk the 4 miles to the demo. Many people with young children and many elderly people were also in this situation and had to turn back without reaching the demo because of the distance.
After the demo finished near Dromoland I drove back through Quin. However I did not feel like making another 25 mile round trip so in Quin I turned down the Newmarket-on-Fergus road. At a Garda Checkpoint the conversation went something like this:
Garda "Where are you going?"
Me "Minister's Cross"
Garda "Where's that?"
Me "a couple of miles the far side of Newmarket"
Garda " Go on so"
I then proceeded to drive down the four miles of road,along the back of the Dromoland estate passed 4 other Garda checkpoints without being stopped and came back out onto the main road approx. 200 yards from the entrance to Dromoland.
Isn't it interesting that the only time I was stopped the entire weekend was when trying to get to the demo at Clarecastle two miles away from where when were supposed to be allowed assemble.
I will let people draw their own conclusions as to what the purpose of the security operation was.