US President Joe Biden visited Northern Ireland today (12th April 2023) and called for all sides in the country to get round the table and return to powersharing. He also believed there were great opportunities ahead if the past was left behind, as the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement was marked by his visit.
The Good Friday Agreement Remains Critical For The Future Of Northern Ireland
He made a speech at Ulster University in Belfast where he also met Stormont’s political leaders. Here are some quotes from his speech as copied from an article on the Irish News website. He said:
“As a friend, I hope it’s not too presumptuous for me to say that I believe the democratic institutions established in the Good Friday Agreement remain critical for the future of Northern Ireland,” the President said.
“It’s a decision for you to make, not for me to make, but it seems to me they are related.
“An effective devolved government that reflects the people of Northern Ireland and is accountable to them, a government that works to find ways through hard problems together, is going to draw even greater opportunity in this region.
“So I hope the assembly and the executive will soon be restored. That’s a judgment for you to make, not me, but I hope it happens, along with the institutions that facilitate north south and east west relations, all of which are vital pieces of the Good Friday Agreement.
“For in politics, no matter what divides us, if we look hard enough, there are always areas that are going to bring us together if we look hard enough. Standing for peace and rejecting political violence must be one of those things.”
And speaking about the shooting of PSNI Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell in Omagh he believed that:
“Northern Ireland will not go back, pray God,
“The attack was a hard reminder there will always be those who seek to destroy, rather than rebuild.
“But the lesson of the Good Friday Agreement is this: at times when things seem fragile or easily broken, that is when hope and hard work are needed the most.”
Brexit Creating Complex Challenges
Mr Biden said Brexit had created “complex challenges” for Northern Ireland.
“I encouraged the leaders of the UK and the EU to address the issues in a way that served Northern Ireland’s best interest,” he said.
“I deeply appreciate the personal leadership of Prime Minister Sunak and European Commissioner (Ursula) Von der Leyen to reach an agreement.
“The Windsor Framework addresses the practical realities of Brexit and it is an essential step to ensuring the hard-earned peace and progress of the Good Friday Agreement that they are preserved and strengthened.
“Negotiators listened to business leaders across the UK and Ireland who shared what they needed to succeed, and I believe the stability and predictability offered by this framework will encourage greater investment in Northern Ireland, significant investment in Northern Ireland.”
More investment AND support is very much needed to encourage entrepreneurs and businesses and to help them to thrive in the future, we greatly hope that this will be the case.