Biden’s Powerful Belfast Speech: Benefits of Northern Ireland Peace

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President of the United States Joe Biden used his speech at Ulster University to urge Northern Ireland’s leaders to reinstate the power-sharing government, which has been suspended since February of last year. Biden, who is of Irish descent, also highlighted the opportunity for American investment and expansion in the region. He emphasised the significance of maintaining peace and stability in Northern Ireland, noting that proponents of democracy are needed in every generation. Despite the potential for economic development, the region’s politicians have been unable to resolve the political crisis that has stalled the government of Northern Ireland.

During his first visit to Northern Ireland as president, Biden met with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and greeted local political leaders. The purpose of his mission was “to keep the peace” in Northern Ireland. However, his visit was greeted with criticism from prominent members of the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who accused him of being “anti-British.” Despite opposition, Biden’s visit signified “tremendous progress” since the Good Friday Agreement was mediated by the US government 25 years ago, effectively ending armed conflict between pro-Irish and pro-British militants in April 1998.

Devolved government in Belfast is a crucial component of the Good Friday Agreement, but the demise of the power-sharing government 14 months ago due to the DUP’s opposition to post-Brexit trade arrangements in Northern Ireland has triggered an ongoing political crisis. Despite the EU and UK resolving to revamp the trading terms earlier this year, the DUP has yet to support the new trading terms and permit the restoration of Belfast’s Stormont parliament. Biden’s delegation included Joe Kennedy III, an Irish-American Kennedy scion who was appointed special envoy for economic affairs in Northern Ireland. He will spend several days in Belfast.

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