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BIDEN Speaks for Ireland: Politicians on both sides must make an effort

25 years ago, the so-called Good Friday Agreement was signed in Northern Ireland. Three decades of armed conflict ended the “turmoil” that claimed 3,500 lives.

Joe Biden said in his speech at a university in Belfast on Wednesday that the US president at the time, Bill Clinton, was deeply involved in the negotiations, and on the US side there is a strong will to keep the peace going.

The United States will continue to be your partner in building the future that young people here need. He’s important to us, and he’s important to me personally,” said Joe Biden, who has family on the island of Ireland.

He emphasized historical connections and the great Irish immigration to the United States. But when he talked about the present, it became even more tense. In polarized Northern Ireland, it is easier said than done for a Catholic like Biden to impress Protestants in unionist circles.

The large moderate unionist party, the Democratic Unionist Party, is criticizing the new Brexit deal on Northern Ireland that British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak negotiated with the EU, the so-called Windsor Framework. Until changes are made to this, the DUP refuses to form a unity government in Northern Ireland, which is required under the peace deal.

The result was paralysis in the regional government. Biden – who supports the Windsor Framework – urged the parties to find a way to govern together.

– As your friend, I hope we will not be seen as too pretentious if I say that the democratic institutions created by the Good Friday Agreement are still crucial to the future of Northern Ireland. It is up to you to decide, Biden said, but effective political governance that reflects the people of Northern Ireland would bring greater opportunity for Northern Ireland.

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In his speech, he emphasized the opportunities that peace brings:

Today Belfast is the beating heart of Northern Ireland and has good prospects for attracting unprecedented investment from Great Britain, Ireland and the United States. Because remember: peace and economic opportunity go together.

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