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12 Apr, 2023 17:30

Plan for Biden's security found on Irish street

A “sensitive” police document was discovered in Belfast ahead of the president’s arrival
Plan for Biden's security found on Irish street

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is investigating a “security breach” after a member of the public found a document detailing the force’s plan for US President Joe Biden’s visit to the city.

Biden arrived Belfast on Tuesday night, where he was met by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. He then stayed at the Grand Central Hotel in the city center, before a speech at a university on Wednesday.

Handed to the BBC by a member of the public, the document details the names and call signs of the officers manning checkpoints around Biden’s hotel, instructing them to coordinate with the US Secret Service and to “be alert to and challenge persons acting suspiciously” in the area.

One of the document’s five pages was posted to Twitter by BBC journalist Stephen Nolan, with the officers’ names and call signs redacted. The page was dated Monday, and presumably covers security preparations for that evening. The document is marked “Official Sensitive.”

“I literally came out of my home and drove up the street and saw the document,” its finder told Nolan on Wednesday. “I stopped, picked it up, and there it was: the first thing I noticed is it was a PSNI document with ‘sensitive’ on top.”

A PSNI spokesman told Belfast Live that the force is “aware of a security breach” and has launched an investigation.

Biden traveled to Northern Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Under the 1998 deal, Northern Ireland’s Catholic nationalists and Protestant unionists agreed to share power, while their respective armed paramilitary groups agreed to decommission their weapons in exchange for the release of political prisoners. While paramilitary violence has continued at a low level since the agreement was signed, it largely ended decades of bloodshed in the disputed province.

The deal was brokered by then-US President Bill Clinton and supported by Biden, who was a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time.