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Ireland: Tensions Rise with Presidential Visit


In the United Kingdom all eyes are on Northern Ireland who welcomed the American president last Tuesday for a visit that lasted for an entire day. Joe Biden came to celebrate 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement which ended three decades of conflict.

As Northern Ireland was awaiting Joe Biden on the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, the police were on edge. According to MI5, an attack is highly likely in an alarming way during the days that marks Irish history in a way that still affects people’s sentimentalities. Such attacks would serve as a golden opportunity for dissident groups, like the Irish Republican Army and its breakaway factions, to be heard.

Before this very important part of his trip to the island, Joe Biden had to face a highly fragile situation in Belfast. He was accompanied by Joe Kennedy, a former member of the House of Representatives, and the president’s current special envoy for Northern Ireland. Through this visit to this particular part of British territory still healing after the chaotic period of bloody decades of the "Troubles", the President of the United States visit will serve as a reminder that the focus and attention should solely be granted to the peace process, as also to the political tensions within Northern Ireland.

The American president only spent a few hours in Belfast this Wednesday, April 12, and carefully avoided dwelling on the political deadlocks that weigh on the region, which has been without a government for more than a year.

Joe Biden's visit, his first to the island of Ireland since 2016, may well be symbolic, but it ended like a soufflé: a little flat, after long and painful efforts to prepare for everything.

Joe Biden has cast doubt on his arrival until an agreement is reached between the United Kingdom and the European Union to regulate trade and ease post-Brexit cooperation on the island of Ireland.

While Ireland, who received the American president this Wednesday, molotov cocktails and projectiles targeted the police on Monday in Derry, the city of Bloody Sunday.  The dissident republicans, sworn enemies to British presence on the Irish island with a desire to unite their country under one banner once and for all, have assumed responsibility. No casualties were reported.

The streets of Ireland saw multiple flocks of people march wearing military uniforms during the commemoration of a major event that has marked the violent history of the Irish-British relations: the 1916 Easter Rising in which Irish nationalists launched an armed insurrection in protest against British rule.

Police announced they were successful in stopping a terrorist plot before any action that put civilian life in danger could be executed. The police are specifically on the lookout of the new IRA, the new Irish Republican Army, the latter have assumed responsibility for a multitude of attacks and crimes like last February, they tried to murder an inspector.

President Biden will meet British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Belfast on Wednesday to commemorate the Good Friday Agreement, then deliver a speech at Ulster University before departing for Dublin to meet Irish President Michael Higgins.

The White House announced on Monday that it knew about the rising levels of security threats in Northern Ireland, as the National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak during the Friends of Ireland lunch on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2023.

For historical context, the 10th of April 1998, Good Friday, the day preceding Easter, was celebrated in an unorthodox fashion as a peace treaty was finally signed between the Republicans, in favor of reunification with Ireland, and the Unionists, in favor of remaining within the United Kingdom, to end the bloody years of the Troubles. These negotiations were supervised by London, Dublin and Washington who also took part in them. The Troubles left 3,500 innocent civilians and militants dead among Unionists, mostly Protestants, and Republicans, mostly Catholics, with the involvement of the British army.

Edited by : Ritaja Kar


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