Plans being finalized for the centenary commemoration of Béal na Bláth

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Plans are being finalized to accommodate thousands of people who are expected to attend the historic commemoration of the centenary of the assassination of Michael Collins at Béal na Bláth in West Cork later this month.

A major traffic management and health and safety plan has been prepared to respond to crowds of 2,000 to 5,000 people, but contingency plans are in place to do more.

Event management experts have been drafted in by the committee that plans the annual commemoration to help with the logistics around this year’s centenary event which will be tackled jointly by the head of the Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil, Micheál Martin, and by Tánaiste, and Fine Gael leader Léo Varadkar.

It will be the first time a Fianna Fáil Taoiseach and leader will address the gathering at the site which marks the ambush site where Collins was shot and killed on August 22, 1922, in the early months of the Civil War.

The annual commemoration takes place on the Sunday closest to August 22. This year, it will take place on Sunday, August 21.

Chairman of the Michael Collins Commemoration Committee, Fine Gael Cork Councilor Garret Kelleher said detailed planning for the centenary commemoration had been underway for months, involving local landowners, the County Council of Cork, the gardaí, defense forces, event planning experts, civil defense and the Kilmurry GAA club.

A road closure is expected to be in place on the L2011 from around 10am on the morning of the commemoration. Some 30 acres of land near the ambush was made available by local landowners to facilitate parking.

A shuttle bus will run from the village of Crookstown to the ambush site, with parking on the Newcestown side within walking distance of the memorial site. But Mr Kelleher said there was no room at the ambush site to facilitate sieges.

He said people will be required to stand for the duration of the ceremony and there are no plans to install large screens. Kelleher also said people could be directed to fields adjacent to the ambush site, as the ground there is uneven and he urged people to wear appropriate footwear.

The ceremony is due to start at 3 p.m., but people are encouraged to park their cars before 1:30 p.m. RTÉ plans to broadcast the event live on the RTÉ News channel and online.

There will be heavy Defense Force involvement, with the Taoiseach inspecting a guard of honour. Cork County Council is currently overseeing the restoration and regeneration of the Ambush Site Memorial and site improvement works to improve access and facilities at the site.

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