President Joe Biden revealed to reporters that he still plans to visit Northern Ireland later this month despite Ireland currently facing a “severe” terror threat.
“Northern Ireland has increased its terrorism threat level to ‘severe.’ How concerned are you about that? And will it impact your plans to visit?” a reporter asked the president during his trip Tuesday to Raleigh, N.C.
“No, they can’t keep me out,” he replied.
‘They can’t keep me out.’
US President Joe Biden says the raising of Northern Ireland’s terror threat level won’t affect his plans to visit the region.
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— UTV Live News (@UTVNews) March 29, 2023
According to CNN, the decision to raise the terrorism threat level from “substantial” to “severe,” the latter of which means an attack is reportedly highly likely, was made by the U.K.’s MI5 domestic counter-intelligence and security agency.
It was likewise announced by U.K. Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris earlier Tuesday.
“Heaton-Harris said the move was made after an increase in ‘activity relating to Northern Ireland-related terrorism’ including the attempted murder of a high-profile police officer last month. While the public should remain vigilant, they should not be alarmed, he said,” CNN reported.
The shooting of off-duty Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell happened on Feb. 22nd. It’s been linked to a group called the New Irish Republican Army (New IRA).
The New IRA is an Irish republican paramilitary group that’s been described as an offshoot of the original Real Irish Republican Army. Since its formation in 2012, it’s been responsible for a number of terrorist attacks.
Members of the group describe themselves as “dissident republicans.” It’s a term that refers to anybody who rejects the 1998 Good Friday Agreement peace deal.
“The Belfast Agreement, more commonly known as the Good Friday Agreement, was signed in Northern Ireland on 10 April 1998. It effectively brought an end to the Troubles, which had raged in the region for 30 years, and established a cross-community consensus for peace and the future direction of the region,” according to The Independent.
But what were the so-called “Troubles”? Imperial War Museum curator Carl Warner explains in the video below:
“The Troubles is what we call the period of conflict usually from about 1969 to the late 90s, early 2000s. It was conflict in and around Northern Ireland, and it was all about who should both run Northern Ireland and who should Northern Ireland belong to,” he said.
“Generally, broadly speaking, the nationalist republican side is wanting, firstly, a free and independent island of British rule and then a united Ireland. Its members are broadly, although not exclusively, Catholic,” he added.
These are the New IRA guys, and what they essentially want and have wanted is total and unequivocal freedom from British rule.
Their “enemies,” the “loyalist unionist community,” as Warner called them, want the opposite.
“They owe their heritage to the 17th century, when Protestant settlers came, particularly from Scotland, and what they want is to retain this strong link with the United Kingdom,” he explained.
This stark disagreement led to years of conflict that were known as “The Troubles.” Some of it was rooted in religious bigotry and discrimination.
“By the mid-1960s the demographic majority that Protestants enjoyed in Northern Ireland ensured that they were able to control the state institutions, and these powers were at times used in ways that disadvantaged the region’s Roman Catholic minority (though the extent of discrimination in Northern Ireland remains a matter of intense debate),” according to Britannica.
“An active civil rights movement emerged in the late 1960s, and incidents of communal violence ensued, which led the British government to send troops to assist in quelling the urban violence. Bombings, assassinations, and rioting between Catholics, Protestants, and British police and troops continued into the early 1990s. A tentative cease-fire was called in 1994, but sporadic violence continued.”
But then, the Good Friday Agreement ostensibly brought the violence to an end.
This is all linked to Biden because, one, he’s reportedly Irish, and two, his visit to Ireland is in fact designed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the agreement.
“U.S. President Joe Biden has accepted a formal invitation from Rishi Sunak to visit Northern Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement next month. The U.K. prime minister extended the invite as the two leaders met for talks as part of the AUKUS submarine program at the Point Loma naval base in San Diego, California,” Politico reported last month.
“I look forward to our conversations and also, importantly, to invite you to Northern Ireland, which hopefully you will be able to do, and so we can commemorate the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. I know it’s something very special and personal to you. We would love to have you over,” Sunak reportedly told him at the time.
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