Joe Biden’s three-day visit to the Republic of Ireland has been marked by a shift in tone and mood, as the US President returns to his family’s roots and a sense of belonging. With 30 million Americans claiming Irish ancestry, this visit is also hoped to bring a political dividend ahead of the upcoming presidential election.
The visit to Northern Ireland was short and low-key, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s involvement minimal. He did, however, meet with police officer John Caldwell and his family, which many have praised him for.
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has been skeptical about Biden’s visit and the new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland, called the Windsor Framework. While the party leadership has been more mild in its tone, saying that the President’s language was appreciated, it is clear that the visit has not changed anything.
The DUP is divided on the issue, with some like MP Sammy Wilson and peer Lord Dodds being particularly sceptical. It is likely that the party will hold out until after the next general election or even until the autumn before making any decisions.
In the meantime, those hoping for a restoration of power sharing are hoping that the trickle of those arguing that Northern Ireland cannot function properly without it will eventually twist arms and bring about a change of mind.
It remains to be seen if this visit will have any long-term effects on Northern Ireland politics, but it is clear that Biden’s return to his family’s roots has been a meaningful one.