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Proud Irish descendant Biden to mark St. Patrick’s Day, praise Good Friday accord

President Biden
President Biden on a visit to Chester, Pa., on Tuesday.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

President Biden is marking St. Patrick’s Day on Wednesday by meeting virtually with the Irish premier and recommitting the U.S. to the Good Friday Agreement regarding Northern Ireland, the historic peace deal that has come under increasing stress following Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Biden, the latest president of Irish descent, is set to meet with Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin.

Biden is also expected to attend Mass near his family home in Wilmington, Del., before returning to the White House to partake in St. Patrick’s Day celebrations toned down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden and Martin’s virtual bilateral meeting — Biden’s third with a foreign leader since he took office eight weeks ago — will be followed by the presentation of an engraved bowl of shamrock, which has been sent ahead to Washington. It ensures that a tradition that began in 1952 will continue uninterrupted, if modified by COVID-19 concerns.

The White House says Biden will also drop in on Vice President Kamala Harris’ meeting with Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill in a show of support for the Good Friday Agreement.

Signed in 1998, the Good Friday Agreement helped end the sectarian violence that had raged for three decades over the issue of Northern Ireland unifying with Ireland or remaining part of the U.K.

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The Irish town that Joe Biden’s great-great-great-grandfather left almost 200 years ago is celebrating his presidential victory.

Britain’s Jan. 1 exit from the EU has created new tensions over trade and travel at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. On Monday, the EU said it was starting legal action against the U.K., arguing that London is not respecting the conditions of the Brexit withdrawal agreement and is violating international law by unilaterally extending a special trade system at the land border that was set up as part of the Brexit divorce deal.

The White House stressed that the U.S. continues to support the Good Friday Agreement and its implementation. It called the agreement “the bedrock of peace, stability, and prosperity for all the people of Northern Ireland.”

Biden and Martin’s meeting also will emphasize their commitment to addressing global challenges and combating the coronavirus, among other issues, the White House said.

“Our two countries are committed to working together to safely restore global travel, work within multilateral fora to prevent and respond to future outbreaks, and ensure a sustainable global economic recovery,” the White House said in a statement.


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