Obama to press for fresh impetus on ‘shared future’ during Belfast visit

President to make significant address before attending G8 summit


President Barack Obama will visit Belfast before joining the G8 summit in Fermanagh next month to urge Stormont leaders to counter sectarianism and segregation.

His agenda is still being concluded but The Irish Times understands that he will make a significant address somewhere in central Belfast and call for renewed efforts to build a shared future for the North’s divided communities.

Michelle Obama is not expected to accompany the president to Belfast on the morning of June 17th as she may have appointments in Dublin at the same time.

A White House statement said: “The President’s trip will begin in Belfast, where he will engage with the people of Northern Ireland and highlight the hard work, dialogue, and institutional development they have undertaken together.”

The visit will be the sixth visit to Northern Ireland by a serving US president since the announcement of the paramilitary ceasefires in late 1994. Bill Clinton visited three times before he left the White House in 2000. George W Bush also made two visits, although these centred on talks with Tony Blair about the Iraq war rather than the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Last visit
There is no indication at this early stage that secretary of state John Kerry will join the president in Belfast. He has already met UK foreign secretary William Hague on G8 matters in London.

Mr Obama was last in Ireland two years ago when he visited Dublin and Moneygall, Co Offaly. First Minister Peter Robinson has welcomed the announcement of the presidential statement.