Pictures: David Raleigh
The men and women of An Garda Síochána who are tasked with managing the behind-the-scenes mammoth security operation surrounding President Trump’s visit, are based in a “strategic central command control centre” located at Shannon Garda Station.
Gardaí refer to it as “The Bush Room”, christened during the 2004 visit to Clare by the then US President George W Bush.
The garda bunker, which is manned by officers 24-hours a day, is bustling.
Twenty-five closed-circuit cameras, salted along key points at Shannon Airport and Doonbeg are feeding a plethora of flatscreen monitors with round-the-clock live video footage, explains Superintendent Liam Geraghty, Garda Press Office.
As the live video footage is received in the room it is simultaneously broadcast to Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin, where Commissioner Drew Harris can monitor President Trump’s movements, while also keeping an eye on protests and the force deployed to protect Mr Trump.
Should gardaí need to respond to any alarm they are well resourced.
“A tactical firearms officer” and a “trained garda negotiator” are also in the room overseeing events.
“There is also a human rights advisor who is there to give advice to the operation. It is the first time gardaí have had a human rights advisor in a command centre for an event like this,” Supt Geraghty adds.
Should a threat be identified “they can offer instant support instead of gardaí being on the back-foot”.
Every active garda is visible on another screen which provides their location on the frontline of operations via a GPS mapping system.
Other screens are receiving live aerial footage from the garda helicopter.
“Radio operators” communicate with members in key areas, and “scribes” take notes of any suspicious activity.
Clare’s most senior garda, Chief Superintendent Michael Gubbins is referred to in the room as “Strategic Commander” and oversees the operation.
Superintendent Brendan McDonagh is Operations Commander for the Shannon region; Superintendent John Gavin is Operational Commander for Doonbeg; and Superintendent Peter Duff is Public Order Operations Commander.
Every camera feeding the control centre has night-vision capabilities.
It feels somewhat like a sophisticated war room — without the war.
The Irish Defence Forces are also represented and gardaí are using an Automatic Vehicle Location (AVLS) system to monitor vehicles in and out of strategic locations.
The key decisions relating to the President’s security operation, in liaison with Garda HQ and the President’s Secret Service agents are made in the room.
No threat has yet been identified by gardaí, however the extraordinary security operation will continue as long as Mr Trump remains on Irish soil.
“It’s a massive logistics operation, but it has been clam because it’s predominantly a private visit, rather than being a state visit with a lot of public engagements,” added Supt Geraghty.