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US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the G20 summit last November Alamy Stock Photo
Northern Ireland

Joe Biden hails Protocol deal as 'essential step' in protecting Good Friday Agreement

The US president has long taken a close interest in the peace process in Northern Ireland.

US PRESIDENT JOE Biden has called Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal with the EU an “essential step” in protecting the Good Friday Agreement.

In a White House statement, the US president praised the efforts of London and Brussels to secure the deal, after Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen earlier unveiled the Windsor Framework.

Biden said that the deal was an “essential step to ensuring that the hard-earned peace and progress of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement is preserved and strengthened”.

He said: “I appreciate the efforts of the leaders and officials on all sides who worked tirelessly to find a way forward that protects Northern Ireland’s place within the UK’s internal market as well as the EU’s single market, to the benefit of all communities in Northern Ireland.

“I am confident the people and businesses of Northern Ireland will be able to take full advantage of the economic opportunities created by this stability and certainty, and the United States stands ready to support the region’s vast economic potential.”

Biden’s backing is a significant boost for Sunak. The US president has long taken a close interest in the peace process in Northern Ireland and has spoken often about his own Irish heritage.

There are hopes that success in resolving the protocol row could see a visit from Biden as part of events marking the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

When asked if he thought Stormont could be restored in time for the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in April and if this might pave the way for a visit from US President Joe Biden, as has been widely speculated, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: 

“The Good Friday Agreement anniversary is an anniversary work marking no matter what happens – 25 years of peace in our island is a wonderful thing.

“And I think we need to mark that and celebrate that whether or not the Assembly or Executive is formed by then. And of course, President Biden is welcome in Ireland at anytime, whether it’s on that occasion or later in the year.”

The British Prime Minister’s deal removes trade barriers for Northern Ireland and give the UK a “veto” on EU law, but he is awaiting the approval of the DUP and other unionists.

“Northern Ireland can accomplish the extraordinary when its leaders work together in common cause. And I hope – as we all do – that Northern Ireland’s political institutions are soon back up and running. Those institutions embody the principle of devolved, powersharing, representative government at the core of the Good Friday Agreement,” Biden said.

“As Northern Ireland prepares to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Agreement in April, let us remember that ending decades of conflict was not easy or inevitable. It required hard work and determination, and an unfailing faith that a better future was possible.

“Today, an entire generation of young people has grown up knowing only possibility and growing prosperity — the hard-earned dividend of peace. I am deeply proud of the role the United States has played for decades to help achieve, preserve, and strengthen that peace enshrined in the Agreement.

“And I look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners in Northern Ireland, the Governments of the United Kingdom and Ireland, and the European Union, to further that peace and prosperity.”

With reporting by Christina Finn

Press Association
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