Belfast Telegraph

Obama's priceless moment: Public won't be charged to see US president speak at Croke Park

By Ailish O'Hora and Paul Melia

Fans of US President Barack Obama who want to get a glimpse of him at the planned rally in Croke Park next month will be able to do so for free.

It has not yet been established how tickets will be distributed for the event and they may still be given out on a first come, first served basis.

But what is expected is that security will be extremely tight -- with Irish and US security in attendance and people possibly having to walk through scanners and be patted down as they enter Croke Park.

When Mr Obama attended a rally in a Berlin park before he was elected back in 2008, the event was free and open to the public.

The night of his election in November of the same year, he went to Chicago's Grant Park to speak to a crowd of more than 100,000.

This venue was ticketed and attendees had to apply online for "an official printed ticket" and there was no charge. These were distributed electronically prior to the event.

Each ticket entitled the bearer plus one entrance to the event.

Sources said yesterday that the logistics of the Dublin rally were still being finalised.

The event is expected to take place on May 23, but could be switched to May 22, a Sunday, making it more likely that Croke Park would be filled.

The US president will also visit his ancestral home in Moneygall, Co Offaly.

The local authority there could be one to benefit from a €350,000 fund to spruce up towns and villages in time for the visits of Mr Obama and Queen Elizabeth next month.

The Irish department of the environment yesterday said the money would be made available to help drive a new initiative called Civic Responsibility Week, which will run from May 9-15. The money will be available to councils nationwide.

Speaking at the launch of the national Tidy Towns competition in Dublin yesterday, Irish environment minister Phil Hogan said it was "vital" that Ireland was presented in the best possible light to the international media covering the visits.

Belfast Telegraph


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