The President

Biden meeting with British prime minister in Northern Ireland

President Biden is also meeting with five leaders of the main political parties in Northern Ireland, who are currently in a political deadlock.

Biden meeting with British prime minister in Northern Ireland
Paul Faith/Pool Photo via AP

President Joe Biden's historic trip to the UK and Ireland is underway, marking the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement that ended three decades of violence in the region.

In his second day of the trip, President Biden pledged support to preserving peace and progress in northern Ireland under the agreement.

"The United States of America will continue to be your partner in building the future the young people of our world deserve," the president said while speaking at Ulster University. "It matters to us, to Americans, and to me personally. It genuinely matters if you travel in my country."

Biden also traveled to County Louth, Ireland where he spoke with community members and toured a castle that ties into his ancestral roots — one of the last places his maternal ancestors likely saw before leaving for New York.

"Coming here feels like coming home, and it really does," he said. "The way every time I've come, the welcome, the people on the streets — they're just so, so gracious to us."

The visit highlighted the deep ties between the countries.

"We, the United States, use Ireland as our jumping off point into the world's largest market, the European market, and it has created a whole level of prosperity in Ireland and in the United States," said Kevin O'Malley, a previous U.S. Ambassador to Ireland.

But the trip also came as the power-sharing government in Belfast is at an impasse over trade agreements following the UK's exit from the European Union.

The Assembly and Executive have not been sitting in a functional government for over a year now, and there have been some calls for President Biden to put pressure on them to get back to the table.

"I hope that the Assembly and the Executive will soon be restored," the president said. "That's a judgment for you to make, not me, but I hope it happens, along with the institutions that facilitate North-South and East-West relations — all of which are vital pieces of the Good Friday Agreement."

President Biden said the democratic institutions established in the Good Friday Agreement are critical for the region's future and touted the Windsor Framework, an agreement reached between the EU and UK on Northern Ireland trade agreements.

Brendan O'Leary, who has advised officials during the peace process in Northern Ireland, said he doesn't think America's leader will make a harsh move.

White House supports plan for Northern Ireland's place in UK, Europe
White House supports plan for Northern Ireland's place in UK, Europe

White House supports plan for Northern Ireland's place in UK, Europe

The Windsor Framework is a plan between Europe and the United Kingdom to clarify Northern Ireland's place working with the two country groups.


"I don't think, however, he will see it as his role directly to mediate and resolve the current impasse — at least because there's a widespread expectation that one of the parties to the impasse, the Democratic Unionist Party, is treading ground until there are elections in May," said Brendan O'Leary, Lauder professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania. "Those local government elections involve all the parties in Northern Ireland, and they're a test for the current state of opinion."

But some political leaders there feel differently. 

Prior to his remarks, President Biden met with five leaders of the main political parties in Northern Ireland, including Sinn Féin First Minister Designate Michelle O'Neill and Democratic Unionist Party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

"We now have a strong economic advantage and unique access to trade in the world's biggest economic markets; we need to seize that opportunity now," O'Neill said. "Our people and businesses need stability, and they need local government now. There is an onus on the two governments and the DUP to get the institutions up and running. It is my absolute determination to work together to make politics work and to deliver for workers, families and businesses."

"I think he recognized the need to bring balance to what he had to say, and I think we got today from the president something that was more balanced and more reflective of the relationship between Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom and the United States of America," Donaldson said.

President Biden also met with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A readout from the White House said the leaders "reaffirmed their shared commitment to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement … welcomed the Windsor Framework as an important step in preserving that peace and progress" and talked about support for Ukraine.

"I think that what President Biden is doing, and I think it's kind of heroic for him to be doing this, to come to Northern Ireland and push these people to get to the kind of situation where they have a country that's prosperous," O'Malley said. "And I think we see President Biden convincing former Rep. Joe Kennedy — the third to come in as his special envoy for economic issues to Northern Ireland — is another statement that the president is making that he cares about this issue. He cares about Northern Ireland and understands that prosperity is part of the solution."

President Biden declines invitation to King Charles' coronation
President Biden declines invitation to King Charles' coronation

President Biden declines invitation to King Charles' coronation

President Joe Biden won't be attending King Charles III's coronation next month, but he and Charles still anticipate on meeting.


O'Malley said there have been "massive improvements" since the Good Friday Agreement.

"Far and away past exceeded what anybody thought when the Good Friday Agreements were entered in," O'Malley said. "That doesn't mean it's perfect, doesn't mean there isn't room to go; there are some areas that could be improved dramatically, but the difference between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is — it's really miraculous."

O'Malley said he believes the effort to highlight the success of the agreement will translate to progress.

But some protesters against the Good Friday Agreement turned their thoughts into violence.

Four suspected pipe bombs were discovered in a cemetery, and a small group set fire to a police car on the anniversary of the Easter uprising ahead of the president's visit.

There has also been some controversy: The White House is being forced to deny that President Biden is anti-British.

President Biden came under criticism for spending less than 24 hours in Northern Ireland before going on to spend nearly three days in the Republic of Ireland. The former leader of the main Unionist Party in Northern Ireland said that President Biden "hates" the UK — something the White House has denied, saying that he has consistently worked with all the different stakeholders in Northern Ireland.

There has also been criticism from some groups that the president's Irish Catholic background makes him biased, which is something President Biden also denied.

In the remaining time of his trip, President Biden is expected to meet with the President and prime minister of Ireland and address a joint session of parliament.