Rishi Sunak makes Northern Ireland peace pledge

Rishi Sunak pledged to revive the stalled Northern Ireland peace process as he prepares to greet US President Joe Biden in Belfast. The pair are due to mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement – also known as the Good Friday Agreement – which brought an end to the conflict.

And as Mr Biden gets ready to visit to Ireland and the UK, the Prime Minister said: “The Belfast Agreement was an incredible moment in our nation’s history.

“It was a powerfully rare example of people doing the unthinkable to create a better future for Northern Ireland. It is that promise of a better future we offered to Northern Ireland that I will be thinking of first and foremost over the coming days.

“It is my responsibility to ensure we are making good on that promise.”

Monday marks a quarter of a century since the Agreement, which ended 30 years of violence in which 3,700 died. The US supported the peace process, with former President Bill Clinton holding personal talks with many of those involved.

But before Mr Biden meets Mr Sunak as he steps off Air Force One on Tuesday, police are warning of a risk of attacks from dissident Republicans.

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MI5 has increased the security threat for Northern Ireland to “severe” and one MP warned the violence had not ended.

Ian Paisley Jr, son of late prominent unionist the Rev Ian Paisley, told GB News: “Terrorism hasn’t gone away.”

The MP for North Antrim added: “We have had serious threats on the lives of police over the last 25 years. We’ve had a number murdered.”

The establishment of a devolved government in which nationalists and unionists shared power was one of the cornerstones of the Agreement.

But the Stormont administration has been in limbo since the DUP began a boycott after elections were won by Sinn Féin a year ago.

Former Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement, said there was still a need to promote reconciliation between communities who suffered during the Troubles.

He said: “It’s no good thinking that we’ve actually got over these things.

“So today’s politicians and those of the future have to be talking messages of reconciliation and peace and confidence. I think a bit of education about how bad things were is also a help when you’re trying to go forward.”

The Prime Minister, who is expected to visit Washington in June, hopes to use the anniversary of the Agreement to boost the province’s economy.

He will announce plans for a Northern Ireland Investment Summit to be held in September.

It follows the deal with the EU through the Windsor Framework, which effectively allows Northern Ireland to remain within the EU single market while ending trade borders with the rest of the UK.

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