In Belfast, US President Biden encouraged the people of Northern Ireland. In his speech he stressed the importance of compliance with the Good Friday Agreement; the peace treaty signed 25 years ago.
Northern Ireland is “only getting started” on a bright future, Biden said on the Ulster University campus. The 80-year-old president, himself of Irish descent, pointed to the close connection between the US and Northern Ireland. “Your history is also ours and your future is also our future.” It was the only public speech during Biden’s four-day visit to Northern Ireland.
With the help of US investments, the Northern Ireland economy can continue to grow, Biden continued, especially if the divided politicians in Belfast find a way out of the current impasse. The Stormont parliament building has been empty for a year due to a boycott of the largest pro-British party DUP, which refuses to form a coalition government.
‘It doesn’t change anything’
It seems unlikely that Biden’s fraternizing message will have any effect. “It doesn’t change the political dynamics in Northern Ireland,” said DUP leader Donaldson. As far as his party is concerned, the boycott continues.
The DUP opposes the Brexit agreements that London and Brussels have made. As long as the demand for more guarantees from the British government is not met, the party will refuse to take a seat in parliament.
The stalemate puts pressure on the Good Friday Agreement. The treaty, which sealed the end of a decades-long bloody conflict, is based on power sharing. The largest parties from the pro-Irish republican camp and the pro-British unionist camp must always be represented in a coalition government.
The signing of the Good Friday Agreement was a turning point in the Northern Ireland conflict. With two residents of (London) Derry, one Catholic and one Protestant, we look back at that historic moment 25 years ago:
- Biden arrived in troubled Northern Ireland, found pipe bombs
- The ‘Irish son’ Joe Biden arrives in Belfast for peace agreement commemoration
- Police pelted in Derry over concerns over Biden’s visit to Northern Ireland