(London) Northern Ireland marks Monday in sobriety the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday peace agreement, which ended three decades of violence, and is preparing to receive US President Joe Biden who makes the trip for the occasion.

On April 10, 1998, the day that year of Good Friday before Easter, Republicans in favor of reunification with Ireland and Unionists attached to remaining within the United Kingdom won an unexpected peace agreement after intense negotiations. involving London, Dublin and Washington.

The agreement ended three decades of violence that left 3,500 dead between Unionists, mostly Protestants, and Republicans, mostly Catholics, with the involvement of the British army.

No major event is scheduled for Monday, but many political figures are expected during the week, foremost among them US President Joe Biden, who has Irish origins and who arrives Tuesday evening in Belfast, where he will be welcomed on the tarmac by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

“Today we remember the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the people of Northern Ireland,” Rishi Sunak, who was just 17 when the agreement was signed, said in a statement.

He said the anniversary was a time to “celebrate those who made tough decisions, compromised and showed leadership.”

In the years following the peace accord, paramilitary groups were disarmed, the military border dismantled and British troops left.

Local institutions — created as a result of the deal and meant to bring communities together — have been crippled for more than a year due to disagreements over the consequences of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

The unionist party DUP – viscerally attached to the province’s belonging to the United Kingdom – refuses to take part in the government as long as the post-Brexit provisions (customs controls, application of certain European rules, etc.) aimed at preventing the return of a physical border with Ireland will not have been abandoned.

A renegotiation of the protocol between the EU and the UK, meant to address unionist concerns, has been rejected by the DUP in recent weeks.

In this already difficult context with the approach of the commemorations, Northern Ireland raised its level of the terrorist threat after the attempted assassination of a police officer in February claimed by members of a dissident republican group.

“A small number of people […] want to take us back to the dark times,” Chris Heaton-Harris, Britain’s minister responsible for Northern Ireland, told The Sunday Telegraph. “The recent attacks” are a “stark reminder of the fragility of peace”.

For the arrival of Joe Biden in the province, more than 300 agents from the rest of the United Kingdom should be mobilized.

While “the last 25 years have had their ups and downs,” admitted former Republican Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, “one thing is for sure, we are all better off” today.

The Good Friday Agreement, “as we will see during President Biden’s visit this week, continues to enjoy tremendous international support from our closest allies,” Sunak also recalled.

The prime minister is to host a “gala dinner” for the occasion and attend a commemorative lecture at Queen’s University in Belfast. Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – whose husband Bill Clinton played a key role in the peace agreement when he was US president – is also scheduled to attend the three-day conference.

For his part, Joe Biden wishes to take advantage of his visit to “mark the considerable progress made since the signing of the agreement” and recall “the desire of the United States to support the vast economic potential of Northern Ireland”, according to the White House.

The American president will then visit the Republic of Ireland, in the capital Dublin but also in the counties of Louth (East) and Mayo (West), where his ancestors come from who emigrated in the middle of the 19th century, fleeing as so many others a famine-ravaged Ireland, eventually settling in Pennsylvania.