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US First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters begin tour of the Republic

US First Lady Michelle Obama has touched down in Dublin to begin a two day tour with her daughters.

Mrs Obama said today that she “expect great things” of the young people of Ireland but that she has “never felt more optimistic” about our island.

After arriving at Dublin Airport on Marine Helicopter II she was whisked to Trinity College along with her daughter Malia (14) and Sasha (12) to study their family heritage and see the Book of Kells.

The visit caused significant traffic disruption in the city centre as gardai temporarily closed off roads as part of a major security operation.

The Obamas arrived in Belfast on Air Force One after 8.30am this morning and Michelle began a hectic day by introducing her husband, Barack, to secondary school students at the city’s Waterfront Convention Centre.

She spoke of their “pretty packed schedule” over the next few days but said that it was an “honour” to be so welcome in Ireland.

“But wherever we go, no matter what’s on our plate we always do our best to meet young people just like you.

Officially the US Embassy said that Mrs Obama was on a “private visit” to east coast while her husband attends the G8 summit of world leaders in Fermanagh.

After her address in Belfast this morning she flew to Dublin and was escorted under heavy security from the airport to Trinity College.

The family received a guided tour of the Old Library on their arrival at the university shortly before lunchtime where they were shown documents from the archives relating to Mrs Obama’s Irish ancestry, and the Book Of Kells.

They are due to attend a special 5pm performance of Riverdance at The Gaiety Theatre this evening, where Ireland’s First Lady, Sabina Higgins, and Taoiseac Enda Kenny's wife Fionnuala will also be in the crowd.

Tomorrow, the Obamas will be taken on a tour of Glendalough in Co Wicklow before having lunch in Dalkey.

Glendalough  will be on ‘lockdown’ during the visit as dozens of gardai are brought down from the capital and other parts of Wicklow.

After lunch, Mrs Obama and her daughters are due to fly back to Belfast, where they will reunite with the US president.

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