Northern Ireland news

Biden's five-day visit to island of Ireland to begin north of the border

US President Joe Biden (Niall Carson/PA)
David Young, PA

Joe Biden’s presidential five-day trip to the island of Ireland is set to begin north of the border.

Mr Biden is expected to fly into Northern Ireland on April 11 ahead of a day of engagements in Belfast on April 12, the PA news agency understands.

The US president is then due to travel south later that day and will spend the remainder of the week in the Republic of Ireland, before leaving on Saturday April 15.

As well as official engagements in Dublin, Mr Biden is expected to travel beyond the capital for visits related to his Irish ancestry.

Rishi Sunak visit to US
Rishi Sunak invited US President Joe Biden to Northern Ireland to mark the Good Friday Agreement anniversary (Leon Neal/PA)

The Democratic politician can trace his ancestry to Ireland’s west and east coasts, specifically Ballina in Co Mayo and the Cooley Peninsula in Co Louth.

His great-great-grandfather Owen Finnegan emigrated to the United States from the Cooley peninsula, while another great-great-grandfather, Patrick Blewitt, was born in Ballina, leaving during the Irish famine in 1850 to sail to America.

Distant relatives celebrated his election win in November 2020 back in Ireland and gathered again in January 2021 to mark his inauguration.

The presidential visit to the island will have a strong focus on the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday peace agreement.

This week Mr Biden made clear an increase in activity by violent dissident republicans opposed to the peace process in Northern Ireland would not deter him.

“No. They can’t keep me out,” he told reporters.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had invited Mr Biden to come to Northern Ireland to mark the agreement’s anniversary.

Earlier this month, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the president that his trip to the island of Ireland would be “a visit like no other”.

Taoiseach visit to the US
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar presents Mr Biden with a bowl of shamrock during a St Patrick’s Day celebration at the White House in Washington (Niall Carson/PA)

“I promise you that we’re going to roll out the red carpet,” he pledged to Mr Biden during their St Patrick’s Day meeting in Washington DC.

White House officials and Secret Service personnel have already visited proposed locations as part of planning for the visit.

Former US president Bill Clinton and his wife and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton will be in Belfast the week after Mr Biden for more events to commemorate the landmark accord that largely ended the Troubles.

Other key figures involved in securing the deal are also due to travel to the city.