US President in Belfast to support consolidation of Good Friday Agreement
The US President joins other leaders in Belfast to underscore his country’s commitment to preserving peace in Northern Ireland. Biden’s visit comes one day after the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday peace agreement that largely brought an end to decades of sectarian violence in the province. It also follows appeals by Pope Francis and local Catholic leaders for greater consolidation of the peace accord and renewed efforts to promote healing.
President Biden’s visit to the island of Ireland comes at a delicate political time where Pro-British Unionists in Northern Ireland are continuing to boycott the devolved power-sharing government that was a fundamental part of the Good Friday accord.
The power-sharing government at the province’s Stormont Assembly collapsed last year when the Democratic Unionist Party pulled out in protest against post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland.
In a statement on Monday marking the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement, British Prime Rishi Sunak said efforts had to be intensified to restore the province’s power-sharing government.
Pope Francis and other Christian leaders marked the anniversary of the Good Friday accord by calling for prayer and rededication to the peace that was secured in Northern Ireland as a result of the accord.
Describing the Good Friday agreement as “an historic transition,” the Pope said he prayed for it “to be consolidated for the benefit of all the men and women of the island of Ireland.”
In a later statement on Monday, the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Eamon Martin welcomed the Pontiff’s remarks and prayers, saying Pope Francis has shown great interest in Northern Ireland’s peace process and would want us “to redouble our efforts at finding solutions to our ongoing problems” to bring deeper healing and reconciliation.
In his Easter message, Archbishop Martin warned that Northern Ireland’s society had not yet found a way to heal what he termed “the awful open wounds” caused by the violence of the past and spoke of his sadness at the continued divisions among people there “separated by distrust and sectarianism.”