Biden to Head to Ireland on Diplomatic and Personal Trip

April 11, 2023

President Biden on Tuesday is set to embark on a visit to Ireland and Northern Ireland. 

“Everything between the United States and Ireland runs deep–even in the most difficult moments, we hold on to hope,” Biden tweeted on March 19.

The timing of the trip is to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Peace Agreement, which ended thirty years of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. Biden’s first stop will be Belfast on Wednesday, where he’ll meet with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

He’s then set to make remarks at Ulster University to mark “tremendous progress” since the peace agreement was signed in 1998. 

But Brexit, which was passed by referendum on June 23, 2016, has in recent years tested the peace agreement. New tensions over trade and border disputes have arisen since the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

A new joint agreement between the UK, Northern Ireland and the EU, called the Windsor Framework, aims to tamp down the heat. Tensions remain heightened nonetheless.

Biden will “underscore the readiness of the United States to preserve those gains [since 1998] and support Northern Ireland’s vast economic potential to the benefit of all communities,” said National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby.

After the speech in Ulster, Biden will head to County Louth on the Republic of Ireland’s northeastern coast. It was home to his maternal great-grandparents, James Finnegan and Catherine Roche, in the 19th century. 

“Today, I’m Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden’s son,” Biden said during a St. Patrick’s Day event in 2022. “That’s who I am.” 

On Thursday, Biden is scheduled to meet with Irish Prime Minister (“Taoiseach”) Leo Varadkar, and to address a joint session of Ireland’s Parliament.

During his travels, Biden will also visit County Mayo, from where his Blewitt family ancestors hailed.

Biden is set to return on Saturday. When asked by reporters whether the President’s trip will include a meeting with Britain’s King Charles III, Kirby indicated that the two had spoken by phone last week. He added that First Lady Jill Biden would be representing the U.S. at Charles’ coronation in May.

PHOTO: St. Patrick’s Day at the White House, 2023

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