United States President Joe Biden has been in Ireland for the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and to visit his ancestral homes in Dundalk, Co. Louth, and Ballina, Co. Mayo. At the University of Ulster Belfast campus he gave a compelling speech, saying in part,
“… this very campus is situated in an intersection where conflict and bloodshed once held terrible sway. The idea, as I said, to have a glass building here when I was here in ’91 was highly unlikely.
Where barbed wire once sliced up the city, today we find cathedral — a cathedral of learning built of glass and let the shine — light out — in and out. It just has a profound impact for someone who has come back to see it. You know, it’s an incredible testament to the power and the possibilities of peace.”
“The President also reflected on his work as a Senator alongside mediator Sen. George Mitchell in the lead-up to the Good Friday Agreement. He continued to state, “Supporting the people of Northern Ireland, protecting the peace, preserving the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement is a priority for Democrats and Republicans alike in the United States, and that is unusual today because we’ve been very divided in our parties. This is something that brings Washington together. It brings America together.”
All five of the North’s political parties were represented at the gathering, in which President Biden commended the leaders for the 25 years of peace, and compelled them to work together to solve the issues affecting the Six Counties and restore the Northern Assembly.
However, over the Easter holidays, when Irish republicans traditionally mark the Easter Rising anniversary, the British police force PSNI saturated nationalist/republican areas and placed marches under unwelcome surveillance. It was alleged that the police intelligence had credible threats against them by the “New IRA,” and the lack of official permission for some Easter parades prompted added police presence. The overwhelming presence of armored cars targeting one community was biased, maintaining historic resentment, and provoked violence in Derry where youths hurled petrol bombs at an armored car.