The Biden administration has called for peace in Northern Ireland after a week of riots including fresh violence on Thursday night in which a water cannon was fired to disperse crowds in west Belfast.
“We are concerned by the violence in Northern Ireland, and we join the British, Irish, and Northern Irish leaders in their calls for calm,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a press conference on Thursday.
The statement came after the most violent week Belfast has seen in years. There have now been six consecutive nights of unrest. On Wednesday, hundreds of people took part in a riot that ended with a bus being hijacked and set on fire.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheal Martin have both called for a lowering of tensions. On Thursday, the White House joined them.
“We remain steadfast supporters of a secure and prosperous Northern Ireland in which all communities have a voice and enjoy the gains of the hard-won peace,” Ms Psaki said.
She added that the United States continues to support the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the truce that largely ended the decades of violence between Ireland’s Unionist and Republican factions.
Ms Psaki also expressed support for the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol, which she described as protecting the gains of the Good Friday Agreement in the context of Brexit.
This is not the first time Mr Biden, who is Irish-American, has weighed in on Northern Ireland’s peace process. Last year, as Britain grappled with the tangle of Brexit negotiations, the Democratic presidential candidate tweeted a warning to Mr Johnson.
“We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit,” Mr Biden said then. “Any trade deal between the US and UK must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period.”
On Thursday, Ireland’s prime minister called for peace as well.
“I condemn the violence and attacks on the police that we have witnessed over the last number of days in The North,” Mr Martin said. “The only way forward is to address issues of concern through peaceful and democratic means.”