Politics

Joe Biden said he hoped the Northern Ireland Assembly would be restored as he praised the Good Friday Agreement during a speech in Belfast.

In a carefully worded segment of his speech, the US president urged a return to power sharing at Stormont.

“As a friend, I hope it’s not too presumptuous for me to say that I believe democratic institutions established through the Good Friday Agreement remain critical to the future of Northern Ireland,” the US president said.

Clearly being careful not to rile DUP hardliners whose protest against the Windsor Framework has called a halt to power sharing, he added: “It’s a decision for you to make, not me.”

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But he stressed “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” would help draw “even greater opportunity” to the region.

“I hope it happens, along with the institutions that help facilitate north-south and east-west relations, all of which are vital pieces of the Good Friday Agreement,” he added.

The president went on to say that the “dividends of peace are all around us” as he spoke at Ulster University in Belfast.

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US President Joe Biden has told an audience in Belfast that he hopes power sharing is restored

He noted that the amount of glass in the building where he was speaking wouldn’t have “stood up very well” in the past in the city.

“But things have changed,” he said, referring to a previous visit he made to the city in 1991 while the Troubles were still raging.

He praised Northern Irish political leaders in 1998 for coming together and making peace with the Good Friday Agreement.

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Mr Biden said compassion “had changed how this entire region sees itself”, as he called for all parties in Ulster to recommit to peace.

He said: “This place is transformed by peace, made technicolour by peace, made whole by peace.

“So today, I come to Belfast to pledge for all the people of Northern Ireland, the United States of America will continue to be your partner in building the future the young people of our world deserve.

“It matters to us, to Americans, and to me personally. It genuinely matters.

“So let’s celebrate 25 extraordinary years by recommitting to renewal, repair, by making this exceptional peace a birth right of every child in Northern Ireland for all the days to come.

“That is what we should be doing, God willing you’ll be able to do it. Thank you all for listening and may God bring you the peace we need.”

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