Joe Biden throws support behind ‘vital’ Windsor Framework after meeting Varadkar

Taoiseach thanks US president for support of Ireland’s position on Brexit

US president Joe Biden has said that the Windsor Framework agreement represents a “vital, vital step” for Northern Ireland.

Mr Biden spoke to an audience at the US Capitol – which included the leaders of Northern Ireland’s parties – and strongly endorsed the recent post-Brexit legal agreement between the UK and the EU on Northern Ireland.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson, who was in the room for the speaker’s St Patrick’s Day lunch, had said the deal required further changes before his party signed up to it.

Mr Biden threw the United States’ support behind the Windsor Framework agreement after meeting Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington DC before both men attended the lunch on Capitol Hill.


Mr Biden said the framework was a “vital, vital step to ensure all the people of Northern Ireland have the opportunity to realise their full potential“.

Mr Varadkar told the US leader that his support and understanding of Ireland’s position on Brexit in recent years “had really made a difference” to the outcome.

“We have got to a good place” with the new framework, he said.

Mr Varadkar told the president, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, and other top political figures that the US had played a central role in facilitating a solution in Northern Ireland.

He also thanked the Friends of Ireland caucus in the US Congress for its commitment to the island of Ireland, north and south.

The Taoiseach said there were “incredible opportunities” open to Northern Ireland for economic development, especially with the potential of the framework.

Mr Varadkar said he profoundly wanted to thank Mr Biden and the US for its leadership on Ukraine. “I never thought I would see a war like this in Europe in my lifetime,” the Taoiseach said.

He said that while Ireland was militarily neutral, it was not politically neutral in the face of violations of international law and human rights. Ireland would not stay silent when liberty, freedom and fundamental human rights were being attacked.

“We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” he said, adding that appeasement, no matter how well-intentioned, ultimately failed.

In an official readout of the meeting between Mr Biden and the Taoiseach, the White House said they had “reaffirmed the historic ties and shared values” between the United States and Ireland and discussed their countries’ shared commitment to continue supporting Ukraine.

“They also talked about their cooperation on a range of other global issues. The leaders reaffirmed their steadfast support for the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement as we approach its 25th anniversary and welcomed the Windsor Framework as an important step in preserving the agreement’s peace dividend. In addition, they discussed the robust trade and investment between our countries, as well as steps to strengthen the resilience of our economies.”

Earlier, Mr Varadkar pledged to “roll out the red carpet” for Mr Biden for his expected visit to Ireland next month to mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement.

“I promise you that we’re going to roll out the red carpet and it’s going to be a visit like no other,” he told the president during a meeting at the Oval Office, where he presented him with the traditional bowl of shamrock. “Everyone’s excited about it already. We’re going to have great crowds who’d love to see you.”

Mr Biden described Ireland as “home” when talking about St Patrick’s Day. “It’s a big day in my grandparents’ household, our household, a big day here, and I know a bigger day at home,” he said.

On Friday morning, the Taoiseach met US vice-president Kamala Harris for breakfast at her official residence, and praised her and the US for advancing the cause of LGBT rights. Thanking Ms Harris for welcoming himself and his partner, Matt Barrett , Mr Varadkar said: “As doctors and as proud members of the LGBT community, allow us to say how inspired we’ve been by your personal advocacy for marriage equality… And also your defence of affordable healthcare.”

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times