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Obama will get a real Irish welcome -- with wind and rain on way

We can promise him a warm welcome but US President Barack Obama is likely to feel the damp effects of Irish weather during his visit here on Monday.

As his plane lands for the whistle-stop tour, he will be greeted by rain and southwesterly gale gusts.

And although the wet conditions may lift for a short while in the afternoon, by evening the blustery showers will return as the president takes the podium for his address at College Green in Dublin.

Meanwhile the intensive security focus on Queen Elizabeth has switched to protecting the US president and Dublin will be in lockdown for most of Monday afternoon and evening.

Traffic restrictions were put in place in the capital today in advance of the visit.

The Phoenix Park will also be closed today and tomorrow to all vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians, with the exception of visitors to Dublin Zoo.



ACCESS

Access to Dame Street has been cut off since 6am this morning.

Within minutes of the queen's homeward flight taking off from Cork airport, the security operation turned to the President Obama's arrival.

Special Branch detectives from the unit's Middle Eastern desk are combining with military intelligence to combat the dangers posed by international terror groups.

To maintain the highest security, full details of the visit are not being released until the last minute and a number of contingency plans have also been drawn up by the US security advisers.

It is not yet decided if he will travel by road or by helicopter from Dublin airport to the Phoenix Park on Monday morning to meet President Mary McAleese.



HELICOPTER

Immediately afterwards he will join Taoiseach Enda Kenny and members of his Cabinet at the official Government residence in Farmleigh before moving to the US embassy for lunch.

The president will then be taken by helicopter to Moneygall, Co Offaly, and will spend about an hour in the home village of his ancestors before returning by helicopter to Dublin for his appearance at a huge outdoor concert at College Green.

Westlife, Imelda May and Jedward, along with actors Brendan Gleeson, Stephen Rea and Gabriel Byrne will warm up the crowd from 3pm with President Obama expected on stage before 5.30pm.

College Green will be sealed off for several hours in advance of the concert with only one access route open.

Concertgoers will be screened by gardai using magnometers -- similar to airport walk-through scanners -- and backed up by US agents.

csheehy@herald.ie