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'Public Should Remain Vigilant': Biden's Trip To Ireland & NI Highlights Security Concerns

Biden will visit Belfast, Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK and then Ireland from April 11-14 to mark progress since the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

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United States President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit Northern Ireland next Tuesday amidst mounting security concerns and continuing debates about the region's future. Biden's trip will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, a historic peace agreement that played a key role in putting an end to over three decades of sectarian violence. Specifically, he will be visiting Belfast during his trip. Biden will then head to Ireland from April 12-14.

Despite the significance of Biden's upcoming visit to Northern Ireland to commemorate the Good Friday Agreement, it coincides with a period of great apprehension about the future of the accord. This is largely due to the new stipulations imposed as a result of the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. As a result, there is a tangible risk of terrorist attacks from dissident groups, and the threat level for terrorism in Northern Ireland was elevated to "severe" as recently as March 28, reported Newsweek.

Newsweek quoted Northern Ireland's Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris saying at the time: "In recent months, we have seen an increase in levels of activity relating to Northern Ireland Related Terrorism, which has targeted police officers serving their communities and also put at risk the lives of children and other members of the public."

"The public should remain vigilant, but not be alarmed," he said.

Despite the ongoing security concerns and potential risks, Joe Biden conveyed his unwavering determination to go ahead with the visit during a statement to the press last month. In his remarks, he declared: "They can't keep me out."

Biden's security cavalcade & itinerary

Earlier this week, a convoy of security vehicles arrived in Northern Ireland, one of which was the Roadrunner, a customized six-door SUV equipped with a sizable satellite dome antenna atop its roof.

Following his trip to Belfast, Biden is scheduled to journey south of the border, with planned visits to Dublin, County Mayo, and County Louth, which is the ancestral home of his Irish forebears.

While the security threat level is comparatively lower in the Republic of Ireland, Biden's visit will still necessitate a significant security operation. It remains uncertain how many Secret Service agents will be accompanying him, but local media outlets in Ireland have reported concerns about potential security issues arising from any public appearances made by the president.

Biden has agreed to address a joint session of the Irish parliament during his visit to Dublin, and he will also deliver a public speech at St. Muredach's Cathedral in Ballina, County Mayo, on the evening of April 14.

Reports from Irish news outlet this week suggest that Secret Service agents and members of the Biden administration have been on the ground in Ireland scouting potential locations for the president's events, and have deemed certain areas in Dublin to be too high-risk for public appearances.

"The men and women of the United States Secret Service are dedicated to safeguarding our nation's leaders, both at home and abroad," Jocelyn Keaveney, Special Agent in Charge of the Secret Service's Paris Field Office, told Newsweek in a statement. The UK and Ireland fall under the jurisdiction of the Secret Service's office in Paris, France.

"We are thankful to have strong partnerships with our law enforcement counterparts overseas, and look forward to continuing those relationships as we work together to ensure a safe and secure environment for our protectees," Keaveney said.

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