Friday, December 29, 2006

Another story on the threat to Kennedy in Ireland from the Irish Times

Sniper threat sparked alert during 1963 Kennedy visit

A tip-off about a plot to assassinate John F Kennedy with a sniper rifle during his visit as US president to Ireland in June 1963 sparked a massive security alert, with heavily armed Garda reinforcements escorting his motorcade after arrival at Dublin airport. Stephen Collins , Political Editor, reports.

The alert began in the early hours of June 22nd, five days before the US president was due to arrive, when a man rang Independent Newspapers claiming a sniper using a rifle fitted with a telescopic sight intended to kill him.

According to a Department of Justice file in the National Archives released today, gardaí arrived at a telephone kiosk at the junction of College Green and Westmoreland Street, from which the call had been made, within two to three minutes.

A Garda report said the caller must have left in a hurry because they saw nobody in the kiosk or in the vicinity. The man had sought payment for information about the claimed assassination plan.

He said the shot would be fired from a flat roof on the president's route between Dublin airport and the US ambassador's residence in the Phoenix Park.

Although gardaí suspected it could be a hoax, extra precautions were taken and a memo was sent to all stations, the Central Detective Unit and the Special Branch. "All roofs on the route to Dublin airport were scanned by members with binoculars travelling in the advance and escort cars," Garda commissioner Daniel Costigan reported.

"A rifle as well as Thompson guns and revolvers were carried for use against a possible sniper," he added.

President Kennedy was shot dead by a sniper in Dallas, Texas, five months later.

The newly released files, which have been withheld for well in excess of the normal 30 years, detail the extensive precautions that were taken in the weeks leading up to his visit. An advance party of US Secret Service agents, White House special detail agents and a CIA man from London took part in the planning.

They told Mr Costigan that they would not tolerate plans by NBC to put a television vehicle within 50 or 100 feet of the presidential car. All that was allowed was a motorised float travelling a reasonable distance ahead, carrying equipment for RTÉ and approved US TV companies.

The files also show that plans to make Mr Kennedy an honorary Irish citizen were scrapped after extensive behind-the-scenes consultations.

The awarding of the honour was to have been one of the high points of the president's four-day visit to Ireland but Irish and American officials raised so many legal difficulties that the plan was abandoned.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Gary,
I just wanted to commend you on your blog, its a great read. I hadn't seen the stories on the lawyer going up against Rove and of course you can never have too many scantly clad women on a blog!

All the best and keep it up.

John Geraghty

4:12 PM  

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