President Joe Biden is commemorating St. Patrick’s Day by reaffirming the United States’ dedication to the Good Friday Deal, which has been under increasing strain since the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.
Biden, the first American president of Irish descent, will meet with Ireland’s prime minister, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, in a virtual meeting on Wednesday.
The president will attend Mass near his family’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, before returning to the White House for St. Patrick’s Day festivities that have been scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The virtual bilateral meeting between Biden and Martin — Biden’s third with a foreign leader since taking office eight weeks ago — will be accompanied by the presentation of an engraved shamrock cup, which has been sent ahead to Washington. It means that a practice that started in 1952 can continue unabated, even if COVID-19 issues are addressed.
Biden will also attend Vice President Kamala Harris’ meeting with Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill in support of the Good Friday Deal, according to the White House.
The Good Friday Agreement, signed in 1998, helped put an end to three decades of sectarian conflict over whether Northern Ireland should join Ireland or remain part of the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union on January 1 has heightened tensions at the Irish border in terms of trade and travel. The EU announced on Monday that it will take legal action against the United Kingdom, claiming that the former member is violating international law by unilaterally expanding a special trading arrangement at the land border that was established as part of the Brexit divorce agreement.
The US continues to support the Good Friday Agreement and its implementation, according to the White House. The agreement was described as “the pillar of security, stability, and prosperity for all of Northern Ireland’s people.”
According to the White House, Biden and Martin’s meeting will highlight their commitment to resolving global problems and fighting the coronavirus, among other topics.
The White House issued a statement saying, “Our two countries are committed to working together to safely restore global travel, work within multilateral fora to prevent and respond to potential outbreaks, and ensure a sustainable global economic recovery.”