Joe Biden’s Belfast visit moved as he wants to let Bill and Hillary Clinton have ‘their moment in the sun’

US president Joe Biden (Susan Walsh/AP)

Niamh Campbell

American sources have said Joe Biden’s decision to move his Northern Ireland visit forward by a month is because he wants to let Bill and Hillary Clinton “have their moment in the sun”.

Both the current US president and the former president and First Lady will be visiting Belfast during a week of events to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement.

According to The Guardian, it appears likely Brtain’s King Charles III and President Biden won’t cross paths during both their visits to celebrate a quarter-century of peace in the North, but will instead “stage back-to-back visits in an echo of historic visits to Dublin by Barack Obama and the queen in 2011.”

Neither the White House nor Buckingham Palace would confirm dates but senior figures in Northern Ireland have been told to expect Mr Biden on April 11 and the king one week later.

On April 15, Hillary Clinton will speak at a special event in the Queen’s Film Theatre to mark the television screening of a film about murdered journalist Lyra McKee.

The former US secretary of state will be joined by ex-Women’s Coalition leader Monica McWilliams to discuss the documentary by Bafta award-winning director Alison Millar.

Mr Biden also today said security officials “can’t keep him out” of Northern Ireland next month, despite M15’s decision to increase the region’s terrorism threat level to “severe”.

The UK’s intelligence service made the announcement yesterday, citing an increase in activity by dissident Irish republican militants.

Severe is the second-highest rung on a five-point scale and means an attack is considered highly likely. The threat had stood one notch lower at “substantial” for the past year.

The threat level for the rest of the UK remains at substantial, meaning an attack is considered likely.

A ban has been placed on gardaí taking time off during the visit of the US President next month. has learned gardaí across the country have been informed that leave and rest days are restricted over the six-day period.

The directive, issued by Garda Headquarters, indicates that President Joe Biden will visit Ireland between April 10 and 15, which is earlier than had been originally anticipated on April 17.

During those dates gardaí of all ranks are restricted from taking leave or rest days, apart from in exceptional circumstances.

It also states that the restriction takes effect from today, meaning it won't impact gardaí who have already been granted annual leave.

Biden is expected to spend the majority of his time in his ancestral Mayo, while also visiting Dublin, Belfast, and Louth, where he also has family connections.