US presidents can “play a real role” in helping to unblock politics in Northern Ireland, the UK’s former prime minister Sir Tony Blair said on Tuesday, hours before President Joe Biden was due to arrive in Belfast.
The brief visit by Biden, an Irish-American Catholic, will commemorate the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that ended three decades of conflict and established a power-sharing government.
“The American president is still the American president,” Blair told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “I think if we do it in the right way, the involvement of the American president is positive.”
Blair has accepted that Northern Ireland’s Good Friday peace agreement, which he played a key role in negotiating, should be kept “under review” ahead of Biden’s visit to mark the deal’s 25th anniversary.
However, Blair stressed that any revisions to the deal signed on April 10 1998 needed the support of both pro-British unionist and Irish nationalist communities in the region.
The pro-British Democratic Unionist party has refused to participate with Irish nationalist and other parties in the power-sharing executive set up under the deal.
“We don’t have the executive up and running and we want that and the agreement should be reviewed over time,” Blair said. “The only thing is if you’re going to review it, whatever comes out of the review will only work if it brings the communities together.”