News, Politics

United States President Visits Belfast to Commemorate the 25th Anniversary of The Good Friday Agreement

Nmesoma Okwudili


April 13, 2023

President Joe Biden travels to Belfast, Northern Ireland, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. This visit is a continuation of his previously scheduled trip to the United Kingdom and Ireland, which aims to promote regional peace and reconciliation. This is an important time in Northern Ireland’s history, as the Good Friday Agreement was a turning point in the peace process, bringing an end to decades of sectarian violence and political unrest.

The Good Friday Agreement, signed on April 10, 1998, brought an end to three decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles. It recognised the principle of consent to determine Northern Ireland’s constitutional status and established institutions to promote cross-border cooperation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The significance of the Good Friday Agreement is demonstrated by Joe Biden’s visit to Belfast, which also demonstrates the United States’ commitment to peace and stability in Northern Ireland. Biden’s trip to Belfast will include meetings with political leaders and visits to historical sites, such as the Peace Walls that continue to divide some Belfast communities.

This visit comes at a time when Northern Ireland faces numerous challenges, including ongoing political tensions and the repercussions of Brexit. The agreement paved the way for increased cooperation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland by establishing a power-sharing government between unionist and nationalist parties.

Despite the success of the Good Friday Agreement, its implementation continues to face obstacles. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the largest unionist party in Northern Ireland, has boycotted the power-sharing government since 2017, citing disagreements with the policies regarding the Irish language and same-sex marriage. The timing of Biden’s visit to Belfast is crucial, as efforts are underway to restore the power-sharing government and address other outstanding agreement-related issues.

It is anticipated that Biden’s visit will address these concerns. He will likely use this occasion to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland peace process. The President has a long history of involvement in Northern Ireland, having played a crucial role in the peace negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement.

Biden’s visit to Belfast sends a powerful message of support for the Northern Ireland peace process. He is anticipated to meet with political leaders from across the political spectrum, as well as civil society and business community representatives. This is the first visit by a U.S. president to Northern Ireland since Bill Clinton’s historic visit in 1998, which was instrumental in securing the Good Friday Agreement.

The Good Friday Agreement has been held up as an international model for conflict resolution and reconciliation. The visit of Vice President Biden to Belfast provides an opportunity to reflect on the agreement’s accomplishments and consider how its lessons can be applied to other conflicts. It also serves as a reminder of the significance of continued support for the Northern Ireland peace process.

The visit is also significant in terms of the United States’ and United Kingdom’s broader relationship. During his visit, Biden is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and the two are expected to discuss a variety of issues, including trade, climate change, and security. The visit is viewed as an opportunity to strengthen the special relationship between the two countries and highlight U.S. commitment to the Northern Ireland peace process.

Biden is expected to visit Dublin in addition to Belfast, where he will meet with Irish President Michael D. Higgins and Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. In addition, he will visit the Irish border region, which has become a point of contention in Brexit negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Since its 1998 signing, the White House has lauded the “tremendous progress” made.

The failure of Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government casts a shadow over Mr. Biden’s visit. In 2017, one of the largest parties at Stormont, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), withdrew its opposition to Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trade regulations.

Before his arrival, Mr. Biden was enthusiastic about commemorating the occasion in Belfast and “highlighting the U.S. commitment to preserving peace and encouraging development.” His four-day stay in Ireland will begin with a visit to Belfast, during which he will discuss his Irish ancestry and spend time with Irish relatives. His sister Valerie and son Hunter are visiting the president of the United States.

Mr. Biden’s trip occurs two weeks after MI5’s announcement that a rise in dissident Republican activity in Northern Ireland has increased the threat level of terrorism there.

On Monday, petrol bombs were thrown at a police car during an illegally held dissident Republican march in Londonderry. In spite of this, the violence was confined to the region and quickly subsided. Tuesday, police in Derry discovered four possible pipe bombs on the grounds of the City Cemetery. They believe they were intended for use in an attack on police officers following Monday’s procession.

According to the president’s spokesman, Mr. Biden was “more than comfortable” making this trip despite the threat of terrorism.

Before delivering his keynote address at the new Ulster University campus in Belfast on Wednesday, the highlight of Mr. Biden’s trip to Northern Ireland, he was expected to spend the night in a hotel in Belfast.

In this speech, he is expected to emphasise the U.S.’s willingness to support preserving the peace and prosperity he perceives to have been achieved since the Good Friday Agreement.

The President is also expected to discuss how the American government can assist Northern Ireland’s economy.

Mr. Biden is scheduled to meet with the leaders of the five major political parties in Stormont during his brief visit to the city.

From Monday afternoon through Wednesday, there has been a significant police presence in the centre of Belfast.

According to Michelle O’Neill, vice president of Sinn Féin, the largest party at Stormont, the visit of President Biden would be a “unique occasion.”

In addition to looking back with pride at how far we’ve all come and how much we’ve accomplished, we look forward to the next 25 years with optimism, ambition, and opportunity, she continued.

While Mr. Biden would have preferred to address lawmakers in a functioning Stormont parliament, former Irish ambassador to the United States Daniel Mulhall stated that his speech would be “very carefully constructed to convey the message that America is ultimately here to assist.”

Mr. Sunak would not meet with Northern Ireland’s political leaders while he was in Belfast to speak with the President. However, a spokesperson for the prime minister insisted that this did not mean he had given up on bringing the DUP back into power-sharing.

Declan Harvey and Tara Mills investigate the Good Friday Agreement, which ended the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

They examine the contract’s actual language and hear from some of the key players who helped advance the deal.

Ultimately, Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to Belfast to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement is a momentous occasion in Northern Ireland’s history. It emphasises the agreement’s enduring significance and reaffirms the United States’ commitment to peace and stability in the region. The purpose of Vice President Biden’s visit to Northern Ireland is to address these concerns, including the impact of Brexit on the region. The visit is also an opportunity to strengthen ties between the United States and the United Kingdom and to emphasise the significance of cooperation and partnership in maintaining peace and stability in Northern Ireland.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles