The First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland have said they are keen to strengthen ties with the new US administration.
Following a question from Sinn Fein MLA Sean Lynch, Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill voiced their aspirations of welcoming Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to Northern Ireland.
They said: “We invited the President and Vice President to visit and we very much hope we will be able to welcome them here soon.”
If the proposed visit goes ahead, it would likely spark hostility from Unionists. Biden has stamped his mark of approval on the controversial Irish Sea border. He was also pictured sharing a warm embrace with a former IRA terrorist, Rita O’Hare, as recently as 2017.
Mrs O’Hare attempted to murder a British Army officer in 1972. In an interview with The Daily Mail, Conservative MP Paul Bristow said: “I am sure that this is an association that Mr Biden regrets.”
Biden also caused controversy last month by accusing “the Brits” of driving his ancestors out of Ireland. He stated: “They were in real, real trouble. They didn’t want to leave. But they had no choice.”
Foster and O’Neill met with Biden and Harris in a virtual Saint Patrick’s Day event last month. Issues discussed included Northern Ireland’s “handling of the COVID-19 pandemic” and the country’s economic recovery.
There have been concerns that visit from the US President would lead to more violence in Northern Ireland, as his visit would be seen by some as lending credence to the Republican factions pushing for a United Ireland.
Protests against the Northern Ireland Protocol are set to continue indefinitely.