US President Joe Biden says his trip to the island of Ireland will underscore the United States’ commitment to peace and prosperity.
He is due to arrive in Belfast later, where he’ll be met by the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
The pair will hold a bilateral meeting on Wednesday, after which President Biden will deliver remarks commemorating the Good Friday Agreement at Ulster University.
The US president is also expected to meet representatives from all five of Northern Ireland’s main political parties.
Ahead of his trip, he tweeted: “25 years ago, Northern Ireland’s leaders chose peace.
“The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement ended decades of violence and brought stability.
“I look forward to marking the anniversary in Belfast, underscoring the US commitment to preserving peace and encouraging prosperity.”
The president will arrive in Northern Ireland the day after petrol bombs were thrown at a police vehicle in Londonderry during an Easter parade.
Addressing the issue of violence, White House spokesman John Kirby told a press briefing: “As for security concerns, you know we don’t ever talk about security requirements of protecting the president but the president is more than comfortable making this trip and he’s very excited to do it.”
Following Wednesday’s scheduled events in Belfast, President Biden will travel south to Ireland, where he’ll hold meetings with the Irish President Michael Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
He’s due to address a joint session of the Irish parliament and will attend a banquet dinner in Dublin Castle.
The president’s attendance at events to mark the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement reflects the US’ influence in helping to underpin peace in Northern Ireland.
In Washington DC, he is recognised as a politician who worked towards a breakthrough long before it came 25 years ago.
Stella O’Leary, chair of the Irish-American lobby group, was appointed by President Biden in 2022 to be US observer to the International Fund for Ireland. It has been used over decades to help promote peace and co-existence in Northern Ireland.
Ms O’Leary told Sky News: “The United States has given half a billion dollars to that fund to maintain the peace. It was in existence from 1986 and it formed the foundation of the peace agreement. So it’s been a long time and Joe Biden was in there from the start.
“He facilitated the funding of the International Fund, with many others – it was a bipartisan effort.
“Ireland has a great debt to America for the role it’s played and he is a representative of that commitment.”
Mr Biden’s four-day trip will be a combination of formal and family. A descendant of Irish immigrants to the United States, he will visit County Louth and County Mayo, from where his ancestors left for America in the 19th century.
He will deliver remarks at St. Muredach’s Cathedral in Ballina, County Mayo, to which his great-great-great-grandfather Edward Blewitt sold 27,000 bricks in 1827. The bricks were used to build the cathedral and their sale helped to fund Edward’s passage to the US with his family in 1851.
In Scranton, Pennsylvania, where his ancestors settled and where he spent the first 10 years of his life, the Irish-American community celebrates the achievements of one of their own.
Nearly a quarter of the city’s population have Irish blood. They include members of the Joyce School of Irish Dance, where we gauged the view on the local boy on the big stage.
Brigid King, 20, told Sky News: “It’s a very cool thing. I was raised very proud to be Irish, it was always a big thing in my family. So to have somebody in power who is Irish, very proud of where he came from, even though not being born in Ireland, is a very cool thing. He’s someone that shares the same passion as I do.”