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Monday 11 December 2017

Davis reveals 'nutter with glass' went for Reagan on visit here

US President Ronald Reagan narrowly avoided an attempted attack on him during his historic visit to Ireland in 1984.

The incident has been kept a closely guarded secret for almost three decades.

However, former RTE employee Derek Davis has revealed an episode which could have become a major international incident had it not been for the quick actions of the President's secret service personnel.

Mr Davis was asked to perform as MC in Reagan's ancestral home of Ballyporeen, Co Tipperary, for the visit on June 3, 1984. He recalled that security was extremely tight in the village ahead of the visit, given that President Reagan had narrowly survived an assassination attempt in 1981 when John Hinckley shot him as he left a Washington hotel.

Fragile

As part of a documentary, Mr Davis said the President was still somewhat fragile when he arrived in Ballyporeen with his wife Nancy.

They greeted thousands of locals who turned out to meet him with security around them at all times. "They (secret service) were very nervous at the time. Anecdotally, we were told there was a bit of a kerfuffle up the main street. Some nutter had attempted to shake hands with Reagan whilst holding a piece of broken glass. At one point, Reagan was completely surrounded by secret servicemen all in identical raincoats - identical to his. They were all of a certain height, all of a certain build and all dressed identically and they milled around him," Mr Davis revealed.

A Rainy Day In June will be broadcast on Tipp FM this Saturday at 11am.

hnews@herald.ie

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