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US President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the annual Friends of Ireland St. Patrick's Day lunch at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Alamy Stock Photo
biden visit

‘They can’t keep me out’: Biden vows to visit Northern Ireland despite increased terror threat

MI5 yesterday increased the terror threat level in Northern Ireland from substantial to ‘severe’.

US PRESIDENT JOE Biden has said the increased terror threat in Northern Ireland won’t impact his planned upcoming visit.

Biden is due to visit both sides of the border during a trip to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

The US president was expected to miss the actual anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, but it’s now believed he could arrive earlier than expected.

Full details of Biden’s visit have yet to be confirmed, but the US president replied “they can’t keep me out” when asked if the terrorism threat level in Northern Ireland would affect his plans.

The UK’s domestic spy agency MI5 yesterday increased the terror threat level in Northern Ireland from substantial to “severe”, meaning an attack is highly likely.

The move came just a year after the threat level was lowered to “substantial” – the first change since 2010.

“The public should remain vigilant, but not be alarmed, and continue to report any concerns they have to the Police Service of Northern Ireland,” Heaton-Harris said in a written statement to MPs yesterday.

The Northern Ireland secretary added that a “small number of people remain determined to cause harm to our communities through acts of politically motivated violence.”

“In recent months, we have seen an increase in levels of activity relating to Northern Ireland-related terrorism, which has targeted police officers serving their communities and also put at risk the lives of children and other members of the public,” said Heaton-Harris.

“These attacks have no support, as demonstrated by the reaction to the abhorrent attempted murder of DCI Caldwell.”

PSNI Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell was attacked shortly after 8pm on 22 February at a sports complex on the Killyclogher Road in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

He was putting footballs into the boot of his car and was accompanied by his young son when gunmen approached and fired multiple shots before fleeing the scene.

The investigation into his attempted murder is primarily focused on the New IRA after a typed message appeared on a wall in Derry, purportedly from the organisation and claiming responsibility for Caldwell’s attempted murder.

Following Caldwell’s shooting last month, political leaders in Northern Ireland came together in rare show of unity to issue a joint statement condemning the incident.

At a luncheon in the US Capitol in Washington on St Patrick’s Day, Biden commented on the shooting of DCI Caldwell and on this joint show of support.

“Northern Ireland took a lot of brave steps so their children could have a better future,” said Biden.

“The Northern Ireland leaders that were there today, let me say how important it was to see you standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the [PSNI] Chief Constable [Simon Byrne] affirming your commitment to the future following the attempted murder of Detective Chief Inspector Caldwell.

“We all have to continue to work to protect peace and stability.”

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