Twenty-five years after the U.S. helped broker peace in Northern Ireland, President Joe Biden heads to Belfast on Tuesday to celebrate an accord that ended three decades of bloodshed and is widely considered a major diplomatic success.
Yet Biden’s visit comes as the Good Friday Agreement, which the Clinton administration helped orchestrate, is being tested by political turmoil.
Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, has been without a government – as spelled out in the agreement – for more than a year amid a trade dispute following Brexit. The Northern Ireland Assembly isn’t meeting. Executive Cabinet posts aren’t filled.
And while the 1998 agreement largely ended sectarian violence, there are new reminders about the peace’s fragility. Northern Ireland’s terrorism threat level was recently raised to “severe” ahead of Biden’s visit. Police disrupted a bomb plot targeted for Londonderry, Northern Ireland by members of the New IRA, a paramilitary group affiliated with the Irish Republican Army, according to The Belfast Telegraph.
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