(Belfast) Joe Biden, who came as a “friend” to Northern Ireland, called on local political forces on Wednesday to overcome their divisions to end the paralysis of institutions, at a standstill 25 years after the signing of peace agreements.

The American president, who usually insists rather on his Irish ancestry on his mother’s side, began his speech at the University of Belfast with a rare mention of his roots … British, on the paternal side.

Joe Bien came to celebrate the peace accords signed on April 10, 1998, but the commemoration came up against a much more difficult political reality in the British province.

The local institutions created 25 years ago, in which the mainly Protestant Unionists, loyal to London, share power with the mainly Catholic Republicans, in favor of joining the Republic of Ireland, are indeed blocked.

Joe Biden recalled that three decades ago, a building such as that of the university, all of glass and steel, would have been unthinkable, in a city of Belfast crisscrossed with barbed wire, shaken by explosions and clashes murderers — 3,500 dead in total for the entire so-called “Troubles” period. »

“ The lesson of the ‘Good Friday’ agreements is that it is when things seem most fragile […] that there is the greatest need for hope and effort”, he declared, praising the economic potential of Northern Ireland, a struggling province in which Washington promises to invest.

“I hope that the (local) assembly and government will soon be restored,” he said, taking care to emphasize that the final decision rests with local political leaders.

Joe Biden had previously met the leaders of the five main political parties in Northern Ireland – including the DUP, a unionist party which does not hide its mistrust of this Catholic president and so proud of his Irish roots.

For more than a year, the DUP has refused to participate in Northern Irish institutions because of the special status inherited from Brexit.

Unionists remain adamant despite the recent conclusion of an agreement between the European Commission and London over the delicate issue of the physical border with Northern Ireland.

Joe Biden once again expressed his support for this agreement, the “Windsor framework” on Wednesday: “I think the stability and visibility that this framework offers will encourage investment” in Northern Ireland.

He also saw, briefly, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who said that the bilateral relationship was “ very good ”.

This, even if Joe Biden’s quick visit to the United Kingdom, and the very brief interview with the head of the British government, may have given London the impression that the American president was providing a minimum service.

The passage in Northern Ireland represents the most delicate part of a trip which, for the rest, is above all akin to a pilgrimage by Joe Biden in the footsteps of his ancestors.

The Democrat, who often repeats that he carries Ireland “in his soul”, will cross the border with the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday, where he will remain until Friday.

He will make an institutional stopover in Dublin on Thursday, then another personal visit on Friday to County Mayo, to the west.

As of Wednesday, Joe Biden must go to the county of Louth, another family cradle. He will have the opportunity to contemplate, from the top of a castle, the port from where one of his ancestors left for America in the 19th century, fleeing like many Irish people from a country ravaged by famine.

In Dublin, he will walk in the footsteps of John F. Kennedy, who addressed the Irish parliament in these terms in 1963: “It is this character trait of the Irish, this remarkable alliance of hope, confidence and imagination, which we need today more than ever. »