ON the grand occasion of his last visit to Limerick as serving President of the United States in September 1998, Bill Clinton’s Secret Service officials swept the city, sealing manholes ahead of his stirring speech to 40,000 on O’Connell Street.
No such fanfare or drama will attend the two-time president’s arrival in Limerick this Saturday, when Mr Clinton will be at the University of Limerick to present bursaries at JP McManus’ All Ireland Scholarship awards.
While a team from Mr Clinton’s office was in Limerick this Wednesday to finalise security arrangements, the 42nd president is travelling in a private capacity, here as Mr McManus’ guest of honour at the awards.
As such, he will fly in and out of Shannon by private jet, and, while he might engage in a round of golf while here, his visit will be short and it appears unlikely that the general public will get a glimpse of the charismatic former president during his time in Limerick.
Some 600 invited guests will witness Mr Clinton present 125 lucky students with their bursaries, worth some €6,750 a year to the students while they are in university, at the event in UL.
When Mr Clinton visited Cork earlier this year he had a small security team with him, but the Arkansas politician was approachable and seemed unhindered by the security detail, playing golf on his visit. It is not known if the campus in UL is to be closed to the public during his visit this Saturday, with the university declining to comment on security arrangements.
Superintendent Frank O’Brien of Henry Street said gardai do not discuss individual security arrangements, but said gardai have been “working to ensure Mr Clinton’s visit here goes off unhindered and that there’s no threat to his security here”.
“We’re working with the people who are inviting him here, and we very much look forward to his visit here. He has visited here many times very successfully and there’s been no incident at all. We would hope on this occasion that the result would be equally as good,” added Supt O’Brien.
In the extensive interview with this newspaper running this week, Mr McManus said that Clinton would be interested in playing golf while here.
“I believe he’d like to – but it’s a challenge, because the days are short. So I’m not certain about it,” said Mr McManus.
Castletroy College student Richard Kantsevitch - now in Trinity College - and Coláiste Íde agus Iosef student Jemima McCarthy, now studying in NUI Galway, are among the recipients, as are Dylan Carroll from Gaelcholaiste Luimnigh, now studying engineering in UL, and Siobhan Condon who attended John The Baptist Community School, Hospital.