(Belfast) US President Joe Biden is due in Northern Ireland on Tuesday evening on the 25th anniversary of the peace deal that ended three decades of violence.
Proud of his Irish origins, Joe Biden will visit the lands of his ancestors in the Republic of Ireland this week. But he begins his visit to the British province with a bloody past, a sign of the attention he pays to the peace process, but also more recently to the political tensions agitating Northern Ireland.
On April 10, 1998, the day that year of Good Friday preceding Easter, the Republicans in favor of reunification with Ireland and the Unionists attached to remaining within the United Kingdom won an unexpected peace agreement after intense negotiations involving London, Dublin and Washington.
A quarter of a century later, the anniversary was observed with no particular jubilation on Monday and was even marked by incidents targeting the police as Northern Ireland is in the midst of a political crisis, with institutions paralyzed for more than a year. year.
By far the main event surrounding the commemorations is the arrival of the American president, who lands in Belfast on Tuesday evening. He will be greeted directly on the tarmac by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Joe Biden is “very excited about this trip and has been for quite some time,” John Kirby, spokesman for the US National Security Council, said Monday.
On Monday, preparations were already well underway in Belfast to put in place the still massive security apparatus that surrounds American presidents traveling abroad.
Law enforcement had begun closing several downtown streets to traffic while police and dogs patrolled near City Hall.
Mr. Biden will have a meeting with Mr. Sunak on Wednesday morning, Mr. Kirby said, before attending a conference at Ulster University in Belfast to highlight “the tremendous progress since the signing of the agreement”.
On Monday, Sunak highlighted the agreement’s anniversary as a time to “celebrate those who made tough decisions, compromised and showed leadership.”
A compromise that 25 years later seems out of reach in the province, where the institutions – created as a result of the agreement and supposed to unite the communities – have been paralyzed for more than a year due to Brexit disagreements.
The unionist party DUP, viscerally attached to the province’s belonging to the United Kingdom, refuses to take part in the government until the post-Brexit provisions aimed at avoiding the return of a physical border with Ireland have not been abandoned.
On Monday, incidents erupted in the border town of Londonderry, where police were targeted during an undeclared parade organized by a dissident Republican group. No injuries were reported.
For Joe Biden’s visit to the province, more than 300 officers from the rest of the UK are expected to be mobilized.
Once the northern Irish part of his visit is over, the American president must go to the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday and make a stop in County Louth (east) where part of his family is from, before leaving. reach Dublin in the evening.
Joe Biden’s family emigrated in the mid-19th century, fleeing famine-ravaged Ireland like so many others, eventually settling in Pennsylvania.
On Thursday, Mr. Biden is due to meet Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and President Michael D. Higgins. It will also address Irish parliamentarians.
He will end his tour in County Mayo (west) on Friday, where other of his Irish ancestors come from, by giving a speech in front of the cathedral in the small town of Ballina.
His Irish tour also has political stakes in the American political scene. With the 2024 election in sight, Joe Biden wants to attract voters who aspire to the American dream of immigrant success.