US election campaign echoes in Ireland

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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has outlined how he will work with Irish-America and Ireland if he is elected US president.

According to a statement released by his campaign, the former US vice president will work to advance the peace process and ensure that there will be no US-UK trade deal if Brexit threatens the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Biden’s campaign also said that he will prioritise creating a roadmap to citizenship for undocumented migrants and work closely with Ireland on the UN Security Council on a variety of issues.

The Biden campaign has held a number of virtual rallies for Irish-Americans in recent weeks in a bid to secure their votes in next month’s election.

The statement released this week highlights Joe Biden’s Irish roots and his affection for Ireland as well as his past work on the North’s peace process and immigration reform.

While the Trump administration has also voiced its support for the Good Friday Agreement, Biden’s support for Dublin’s position on Brexit has won him support across the 26 County establishment. On the other hand, the British government was said to be alarmed at the prospect that the Democrats could win control of the White House and both chambers of the US Congress, posing a huge threat to their plans to renege on the GFA as part of Brexit.

Other than his golf resort in County Clare, Trump has no link to Ireland, but genealogists say a maternal ancestor of Mr Biden, Edward Blewitt, was a hero who saved thousands of lives during the Great Hunger in County Mayo. Before emigrating to the US, Blewitt’s public work schemes contributed significantly to the relief effort and altered the county’s landscape, according to historian Ciaran Reilly.

In 206, thousands lined the streets of Ballina in Mayo to welcome Blewitt’s great-great-great grandson back to his ancestral Mayo home.

The election has seen politicians in the north of Ireland polarised along red-blue lines, with nationalists almost universally supporting Biden, while unionists have endorsed Trump.

Last month, three DUP MPs stood outside the Westminster parliament in London with a ‘Trump 2020’ banner, and a former unionist councillor launched a ‘trailer tour’ to support Trump’s re-election. Jolene Bunting’s ‘Ulster-Scots for Trump’ was pictured in Carrickfergus, County Antrim with a large blue poster listing his campaign points.

Sinn Féin has not commented on the election, but on Friday SDLP leader Colum Eastwood nailed his colours to the mast with a pro-Biden t-shirt — in Gaelic. It read: ‘Votáil Seosamh Biden ar 3 Samhain 2020’, an Irish language translation of ‘Vote Joe Biden on 3 November 2020’.

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