DUBLIN (Jun. 17)
Chaim Herzog, Israel’s Irish-born President, today began a five-day state visit to a rain swept Irish Republic amid the tightest security screen here since the visit of President Reagan last year.
Armored cars and heavily armed troops blocked off Dublin Airport where Herzog and his wife, Avra, arrived in the first-ever direct flight to Dublin by an El Al jet. The security fears were heightened by the hijacking drama in the Middle East as well as a vociferous campaign against Herzog’s visit by local supporters of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Refusing a rain coat or umbrella, the President stood proudly in the rain during a 21-gun salute as an army band played “Hatikva” and “The Soldier’s Song”, Ireland’s national anthem. He then inspected an Irish Army guard of honor which included many men who had served with the United Nations force in Lebanon.
The Herzogs and their host, President Patrick Hillery, then left in a fast moving motorcade to the residence of the Irish head of state in Phoenix Park, where security was supplemented by Irish detectives patrolling the grounds armed with Israeli style Uzi-submachine guns.
Later Herzog called on Dublin Lord Mayor, Michael Holloran, and the diplomatic corps before attending a state banquet at Dublin Castle, which served as a political prison during British rule over Ireland.
Judging by local press reaction, Irish feeling about the Herzog visit is a mixture of pride over his Irish background and reservation about Israeli policy towards the Palestinians.