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US President’s 3 Day Visit to Northern Ireland

The U.S. President, Joe Biden, was welcomed to Northern Ireland by the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, on Tuesday for a three-day visit to mark the 25th anniversary of a peace deal that ended 30 years of bloodshed. Biden, who does not shy from his Irish heritage, will spend half a day in the UK, after which he will be in the Republic of Ireland for three days of meetings with officials and distant relatives. Biden will also need to tread carefully as the largest pro-British party continues to boycott the devolved power-sharing government, which was an integral part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Sunak and Biden held a meeting on Wednesday and will also engage with each of the leaders of the political parties in Northern Ireland before his speech at the University of Belfast. One of Biden’s primary priorities was to show public support for the recent signing of the Windsor Framework deal between the European Union and Britain as an attempt to ease post-Brexit trade barriers in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) mentioned that this is the first trip by a US president in the last 10 years, but it will not pressurise them to end their protests for the post-Brexit trade rules that treat Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK. Biden has offered to float the possibility of closer investment between the US and Northern Ireland to avoid any further clashes between the British government and Northern Ireland.

The US President addressed a crowd during a celebration event at St. Muredach’s Cathedral on April 14, 2023, in Ballina, Ireland. The US President travelled with his sister, Valerie Biden Owens, and son, Hunter Biden, to explore his family’s Irish heritage and mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Peace Agreement.

On Thursday, the 13th of April, Biden became the fourth US President to address a joint session of Ireland’s Parliament, where he recognised the familial significance of one of the greatest honours of his career. Biden visited the original stonework from the apparition gable at the Knock Shrine as he met with Father Richard Gibbons, parish priest and rector in Knock, Ireland, on the 14th of April, 2003. He also visited the North Mayo Heritage Centre in County Mayo on Friday. Lastly, he visited the house of the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, and his wife, Sabrina Higgins, while taking part in a tree-planting ceremony on their estate to mark an end to the visit.