Northern Ireland news

Crowds line streets of Belfast for Joe Biden

Waiting for a glimpse of American President Joe Biden in Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann
Allan Preston

JOE Biden's trip to Belfast may not have been the longest state visit on record, but there was still plenty of opportunity for supporters and some protesters to catch a glimpse of the presidential cavalcade.

Arriving at Aldergrove aboard Air Force One on Tuesday night, the towering Grand Central Hotel on Bedford Street took over from the Europa as Belfast's presidential residence.

After morning coffee with the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, 23 floors up with what the President described as "a heck of a view," onlookers along Bedford Street finally got their moment shortly after noon when Mr Biden emerged from the hotel in 'The Beast'  and travelled the short distance to the Ulster University campus.

Live: US President Joe Biden's visit to Belfast

The Presidential cavalcade leaves the area around the Grand Central Hotel in Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

Many young families, including one with an American flag draped over a security fence, cheered the procession on while an enormous policing presence on the ground made sure everything proceeded as planned.

Earlier in the morning, what seemed like an endless procession of PSNI Land Rovers, circled the university while pedestrians were ushered away from the immediate pavements.

President Joe Biden leaves the Grand Central Hotel to make his way to the Ulster University in Belfast. Picture Mal McCann


A comparatively small crowd had gathered on York Street, including two people with banners protesting against America's war record and another with the message 'Never forget Nashville' in reference to last month's school shooting.

International journalists also filmed reports as they waited for the afternoon's events to begin.

While the new £350m Ulster University campus has now become part of the furniture, the occasion will have caused many to once again appreciate the progress the building represents.

This was not lost on President Biden either, who spoke of the "profound impact" seeing the building had on him. 

"Where barbed wire once sliced up the city, today we find a cathedral of learning, built of glass".





Northern Ireland news