Barack Obama 'causes a fuss' in Belfast

President Obama said there were still "wounds that haven't healed and still many miles to go"

Attending an event graced by the president of the United States of America is never a simple affair.

As Barack Obama's daughters Malia and Sasha apparently told him as the first family's motorcade sped along the closed roads of Belfast, "you cause a big fuss wherever you go".

For the 1,800 students lucky enough to be at the city's Waterfront Hall, the privilege involved an early start - queuing in the rain from 06:30 BST to get through the airport-style security.

'Obama will stay with me forever' says Belfast college student

Inside, there was more waiting. Presidents, it seems, always run late.

Those in the audience should think themselves lucky - I was told that one of his predecessors, Bill Clinton, once turned up four hours late for an event here.

Barack Obama was a fashionable half-an-hour or so behind schedule.

The warm-up artist kept the audience entertained.

The man in the red jacket, looking remarkably like a Butlins Redcoat, did his best, but it was a bit like watching the support act while waiting for the main attraction.

There was music too. For a young audience from Northern Ireland, it was probably inevitable that Teenage Kicks from The Undertones would be one of the tracks played.

When the music stopped, the big men in sharp suits, wearing earpieces, appeared. The presence of the Secret Service could mean only one thing.

President Obama's arrival and his speech were greeted with wild applause and cheers. They laughed at his jokes and whooped at his local references, even when he got the pronunciation wrong.

Afterwards an excitable young man told me the experience was "better than being at a pop concert".

More on This Story

G8 summit

Related Stories

More Northern Ireland stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Martin Gardner as a young manThink hard

    Was this man the world's greatest puzzle master?


  • Carved pumpkinTrick or treat

    What did a riot at a pumpkin festival show about race in US?


  • A man in a biohazard suit decontaminates a handrail at a Dallas train station.Ebola and race

    Is prejudice fuelling outbreak hysteria in the US?


  • Oscar de la Renta and Oprah WinfreyIn pictures

    The life and work of Oscar de la Renta


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • FutureThe future is now

    Get the latest updates and biggest ideas from BBC Future’s World-Changing Ideas Summit

Programmes

  • Smart glassesClick Watch

    Smart spectacles go into battle – the prototypes looking to take on Google Glass

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.