Biden arrives and vows to ‘preserve peace and encourage prosperity’ in Northern Ireland

American President Joe Biden arrived at a military base outside Belfast on Tuesday evening, accompanied by his son Hunter and sister Valerie, to begin a four-day tour of Northern Ireland and Ireland to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Peace Agreement.

Mr. Biden was greeted on the tarmac by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after landing at the Royal Air Force base in Aldergrove, County Antrim, near Belfast, around 9 p.m. local time.

The president’s arrival comes at a particularly contentious time for the UK province, with police in Northern Ireland raising the terror threat level to “severe” last week, indicating that an attack is highly likely.

On Monday, police were attacked with petrol bombs during an Irish republican parade in Londonderry. Police discovered four suspected pipe bombs in a Derry cemetery on Tuesday, which they believe were intended to be used during Monday’s parade.

 Tensions come amid ongoing disagreements over Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit state of affairs, which has been subjected to draconian EU regulations and trade barriers imposed between it and the rest of the United Kingdom, infuriating the region’s largely pro-unionist population, who have felt betrayed by London in allowing Brussels to maintain such control after voting for independence from EU. 

Prior to boarding Air Force One, the 80-year-old Democrat said: “I look forward to marking the anniversary in Belfast, underscoring the US commitment to preserving peace and encouraging prosperity.”

According to reports, Biden will try to persuade the pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to return to Stormont, the devolved local parliament, after nearly a year of no functioning local government due to the DUP’s refusal to give the post-Brexit trading regime legitimacy.

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However, it remains to be seen how much sway the anti-Brexit American leader will have with the DUP, given his history of siding with the European Union during previous negotiations and emphasising his Irish ancestry while downplaying his English ancestry.