Belfast Telegraph

Pilgrims face tight security to see Pope in Phoenix Park

By Ryan Nugent and Ralph Riegel

Pilgrims planning to attend a mass celebrated by Pope Francis in Dublin's Phoenix Park will face a 2km traffic exclusion zone, strict security vetting and a potential wait of up to five hours to exit the park afterwards.

The Phoenix Park event - expected to prove one of the highlights of the Papal visit on August 25-26 - is being strictly limited to 600,000 people for health and safety reasons.

It will mean one of the biggest security operations undertaken in Dublin for 30 years.

The authorities face a complex task to cordon off the park to traffic while providing suitable transport links, given the large number of elderly and infirm people expected to attend.

It is expected that one-in-five of those attending the event at 3pm on Sunday, August 26 will be aged over 50 years.

One official acknowledged that "this (demographic) poses its own logistical challenges".

Gardai and Office of Public Works officials have already met Dublin City Council officials, local traders and residents' groups to discuss the complex traffic and security plan.

Gardai have yet to finalise the traffic arrangements, with senior officials determined to keep traffic away from the Phoenix Park area while utilising public transport in Dublin to the full.

Special transport arrangements are also being examined for the disabled, the ill and the elderly who plan to attend the Phoenix Park ceremony.

However, the bulk of the 600,000 people attending will be expected to walk up to 2km to the event.

A traffic-free cordon will be maintained around the venue for a radius of between 1.5km and 2km - with only specially designated vehicles allowed access. Pilgrims will be asked to travel via specially designated approach routes.

The park will be restricted for several days before the Papal event to allow for erection of stages and support facilities.

Security sweeps will also be conducted in the days before the Papal Mass.

Upwards of 5,000 emergency services personnel will be on duty for the event.

A strict air exclusion zone will also be in place for the ceremony.

Belfast Telegraph

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