| 7 December 2023, Thursday |

US president Joe Biden expected to visit only one NI venue

US President Biden looks set to attend just one event during his visit to Northern Ireland, the BBC understands.

He had been invited to Stormont with the possibility of addressing its members to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

It was understood a visit to Queen’s University was also being considered.

But while no official details have been released, the BBC understands it will involve just one engagement at Ulster University.

President Biden is due to open its new £350m campus in Belfast.

The US president will also address business and civic leaders and may hold talks with the political parties on 12 April.

He is expected to leave Northern Ireland by early afternoon and travel to the Republic of Ireland for the remainder of his stay.

It is believed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will also be in Northern Ireland for President Biden’s visit.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Assistant Chief Constable Chris Todd said on Thursday that the presidential visit would be a significant security operation “of a size that we won’t have seen in Northern Ireland” since the G8 summit in 2013.

“Indeed elements of the operation will actually be more impactful than we saw then,” he added.

He said they had prepared for various contingencies and would “be keeping disruption to a minimum, so that businesses will be able to operate across the city, people can continue to move around the city”.


Ulster Unionist assembly member Mike Nesbitt said it was disappointing that President Biden would not be visiting Stormont, but that “one consequence of not having Stormont up and running is that the President of the US is not prepared to visit that estate”.

He said it would be a subdued trip, a stark contrast to the first trip undertaken by former US President Bill Clinton to Northern Ireland in 1995 during the peace process.

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) MP Claire Hanna said she did not think it was a “snub” by the White House, and that scaling back the trip was understandable in the current political climate.

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill said she looked forward to welcoming President Biden to Belfast, adding that the US was a “strong partner for peace, stability and economic progress”.

“There’s an onus on governments, parties and not least the DUP to get power-sharing going,” she added.

The BBC also understands that US special envoy Joe Kennedy III will accompany President Biden on his visit to Belfast next week.

It will be his first trip to Northern Ireland since taking up the post of special envoy in December.

It is understood Mr Kennedy will stay on in Northern Ireland for several days after President Biden travels to the Republic for a series of meetings.

He is also expected to visit the north west during his stay.

In his role as special envoy Mr Kennedy has been given an economic brief to attract US investment to Northern Ireland.