Joe Biden will travel to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland next week to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, it has been confirmed.
The White House said the US President will make a visit between 11 to 14 April to ‘mark the tremendous progress’ since the peace deal was signed in 1998.
But Mr Biden’s decision to travel across the Atlantic to mark the Agreement’s anniversary could stir up controversy – as he will not be heading to London for King Charles’ coronation next month.
The US President informed the monarch he would not be attending the historic ceremony in a phone call last night, as first revealed by DailyMail.com, with his wife Jill Biden to attend on their country’s behalf.
Mr Biden’s decision not to come to the coronation has been branded ‘foolish’ with other foreign heads of state set to travel to Britain for the occasion.
It is thought the US President may instead meet the King during his visit to Northern Ireland next Tuesday and Wednesday.
Joe Biden will travel to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland next week to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, it has been confirmed
Buckingham Palace released a picture of King Charles and Camilla, Queen Consort ahead of their coronation next month
Heads of state from Ireland, France, Spain, Belgium, Poland, Japan, Hungary and Monaco are all expected to attend the coronation – but the US President won’t be there
Tory MP Bob Seely, a member of the House of Commons’ foreign affairs committee, has said it’s ‘foolish’ for Mr Biden not to attend the King’s coronation
The White House this morning announced Mr Biden will first travel to Belfast next week, before visiting the Republic of Ireland next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
He will visit Dublin, County Louth and County Mayo, where he will give a speech to ‘celebrate the deep, historic ties’ between Americans and the Irish, his press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Mr Biden can trace his ancestry to Ireland’s west and east coasts, specifically Ballina in Co. Mayo and the Cooley Peninsula in Co. Louth.
His great-great-grandfather Owen Finnegan emigrated to the US from the Cooley Peninsula while another great-great-grandfather, Patrick Blewitt, was born in Ballina, leaving during the Irish famine in 1850 to sail to America.
Distant relatives celebrated Mr Biden’s election win in November 2020 back in Ireland and gathered again in January 2021 to mark his inauguration.
Mr Biden’s visit to Northern Ireland comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently struck a new deal with the EU in a bid to end a bitter dispute over post-Brexit trade arrangements.
The US President had previously been accused of meddling in the UK-EU row over the Northern Ireland Protocol both when running for office and since entering the White House – to the anger of Tory MPs and the DUP.
Mr Biden’s trip to Belfast will ‘underscore the readiness of the US to support Northern Ireland’s vast economic potential to the benefit of all communities’, the White House said today.
The US President has been criticised for deciding not to travel to London for the King’s coronation at Westminster Abbey on 6 May.
Tory MP Bob Seely, a member of the House of Commons’ foreign affairs committee, has previously said it would be ‘foolish’ for Mr Biden not to attend the coronation.
‘It seems pretty remiss, and I’m tempted to say more fool him for not coming,’ he said last month.
‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and you would have thought he should come because he’s a head of state.
‘If I was the President of the United States, I would come to the coronation of the King of England – there’s no two ways about it. It just seems to be a foolish decision.’
Heads of state from Ireland, France, Spain, Belgium, Poland, Japan, Hungary and Monaco are all expected to attend the coronation, as well as the EU’s presidents Ursula von der Leyen, Roberta Metsola and Charles Michel.
But senior Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the Commons’ defence select committee, played down suggestions that King Charles had been snubbed by Mr Biden.
‘Whilst we’d hope Joe Biden would be invited, there is no historical protocol for a US president to attend royal coronations, so we should not read too much into any absence,’ he said.
Mr and Mrs Biden both travelled to London for the funeral of the Queen last September.
But no US president has ever attended a coronation ceremony. Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, in 1953, was not attended by then president Dwight Eisenhower.
Following the US President’s phone call with the King last night, a White House statement read: ‘President Joseph R Biden Jr spoke today with King Charles III, underscoring the strength of the relationship between our countries and the friendship between our peoples.
‘The President congratulated the King on his upcoming coronation and informed him that First Lady Jill Biden looks forward to attending on behalf of the United States.
‘The President also conveyed his desire to meet with the King in the United Kingdom at a future date.’