US President Barack Obama will not cross the border into Northern Ireland when he visits the Republic of Ireland, the Irish prime minister has said.
From the breakingnews.ie report
The Government is gearing up for the historic May visit after President Obama announced on St Patrick’s Day that he wanted to return to his roots in Moneygall, Co Offaly.
But the Taoiseach said that under diplomatic rules the President cannot cross the border without first setting foot in Britain.
“The problem actually is that the President, under existing protocol, he’s not allowed to go to Northern Ireland without first having to go to Britain,” Mr Kenny said.
“So if President Obama were to decide to go close to the border, actually from a protocol perspective he’s expected to go to London before he would go to Northern Ireland.”
A spokesman for the British Foreign Office in London confirmed that for state visits, protocol dictates that a foreign leader must travel to London first, before visiting other areas of the UK. [added emphasis]
Although no official date has been announced, Mr Obama is expected to arrive that weekend and will most likely be in Ireland from Sunday, May 22, to Tuesday, May 24.
Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth will be in the country from Tuesday, May 17, to Friday, May 20.
There is speculation in the US that Mr Obama’s visit will amount to just five hours.
Journalist Niall O’Dowd quoted White House insiders as saying the visit amounted to a “hot minute” trip where he would arrive in Dublin for several events before flying to Moneygall, the ancestral home of his distant relatives.
And from an earlier Belfast Telegraph report
However, [DUP leader Peter Robinson] told the Belfast Telegraph last night: “I’m not sure whether, logistically, he can do that. But the invitation is there at any time for him.
“As I understand it, when he goes to the UK, most of his time is going to be spent around the London area.
“So it may not be possible for him to get out.
“But he certainly has indicated that he intends to visit Northern Ireland, whether it’s on this occasion or another occasion.”
And, again, from the breakingnews.ie report
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have raised a visit to the North with Mr Kenny.
Civil rights campaigner Jesse Jackson has also advised President Obama to go north, claiming the soul of the island was in Belfast and Derry.
In the Dáil, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, who topped the poll in Co Louth, asked if the world’s most powerful political leader could stop off in his border constituency, while travelling to his native west Belfast.
But Mr Kenny said the issue was out of his hands.
“But I’m very glad he’s coming here and I hope that the people of Ireland will give him a brilliant and wonderful welcome as he comes to associate himself with part of his ancestry,” Mr Kenny said.
As long as everyone understands that we’re not in magical unicorn fairyland…