THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release|| ||September 4, 1998|
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
IN RECEPTION WITH
POLITICAL, BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY LABOR LEADERS
Royal College of Surgeons
1:05 P.M. (L)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you, Taoiseach, Celia,ladies and gentlemen. Hillary and I and all of our American delegation aredelighted to be here. I've been looking out in the crowd and I see someAmericans who have swelled the ranks even since I arrived in Ireland.Anytimewe can pad your crowd, Taoiseach, we want to do that. (Laughter.)
I'd like to thank the Royal College of Surgeons for makingitpossible for us to be here and for setting a standard for internationalexcellence. I know there are now students from over 40 nations here atthisdistinguished institution.
If you would permit, before I get into my prepared remarks, Ithink that, for the benefit of the Americans here and because it's my onlychance to talk to the press, I would like to make just a couple of comments onthe terrible tragedy of the crashing of Swissair Flight 111.
The victims, their families, their friends are very much inour thoughts and prayers. A very large number of those victims wereAmericancitizens, but also a large number were Europeans. And if you've beenreadingabout it, you know that. It now appears that there were no survivors inwhatis the worst tragedy in the history of Swissair, with its very fine record. Ihave been fully briefed on the extensive efforts under way to recover thevictims and to uncover what happened. And we will continue to do whateverwecan to support the truly extraordinary efforts of the Canadian authorities.
And I want to thank them for what they have done.
Just for right now, I would like to ask all of you in yourownway, if we could, just to take a moment to reflect in silence on thistragedyand on any senseless loss of life, andask that their families of people who were killed be strengthenedat this moment. Thank you very much.
(A moment of silence is observed.)
Amen. Thank you.
Let me say to all of you, it's great to be back inDublin. Even though there is a little rain in the air today,it's always bright and sunny for me here. The day that we werein College Green in 1995 will go down for me as one of the greatdays of my presidency and, indeed, one of the great days of mylife.
But these days have been good as well, working tocement the peace process. And I can't say enough about the roleof the Taoiseach in making this Irish peace process come tofruition. I want to say a little more about it later in specificterms as we look ahead, but I just want to say to all you, youcan be very proud of his leadership, as well as your ownoverwhelming vote for peace a few months ago.
I'd also like to thank Ireland for setting a goodexample by building bridges to other nations by being such anopen economy, by encouraging business ventures from around theworld, and by working together here at home.
We were talking before we came in about this wholeconcept of social partners and how all the elements of Irishsociety have worked together to give you what is, I believe, thehighest growth rate in Europe now -- in any country of Europe--because you have worked together to draw out the strengths ofevery element of this society and to minimize conflict.
And all I can say is I hope there will be more ofthis in the years ahead. I hope that success will wet yourappetite for working together instead of causing, as successsometimes does, people to forget what brought them to the pointof success. Because the Irish story is a truly astonishing --astonishing thing that I believe can be a model for nations largeand small throughout the world.
There has literally never been a better time, Idon't suppose, to be Irish because of the economic success,because of the renaissance in writing, film-making, because ofwhat so many people are doing in so many ways to advance thecause of peace. Of course, for me, your overwhelming vote forpeace and your constant leadership for the peace process over thelast several years are the most important things. And I wouldlike to thank you on behalf of the American people for what youhave done.
I can also say to Prime Minister Ahern, that peaceliterally would not have happened, in my judgment, if it hadn'tbeen for him. He led a campaign sometimes under great personalduress. His pleas for peace began early in his service. He hasbeen fair and open. He has been terrifically effective inworking with Prime Minister Blair and all the parties in bothcommunities. There are many people from many backgrounds whodeserve a lot of credit for this peace, including GeorgeMitchell, whose name was mentioned earlier -- but none more thanBertie Ahern. And I thank him for that. (Applause.)
The last time I saw the Taoiseach I believe was onSt. Patrick's Day, in Washington. He always comes there andgives me my shamrocks and puts me in a good frame of mind.(Laughter.) And then we always have a celebration at the WhiteHouse in the evening and everybody is in a good frame of mind.(Laughter.) But we were especially happy this St. Patrick's Daybecause the sense of peace was in the air. We thought there wasa real possibility for all that has happened to occur.
We now know from the tragedy of Omagh and from thosethree small boys that were killed that there will be those whotest the peace, who do not want to move into tomorrow, who areliterally trapped in the patterns, the hatreds, the mind-set ofyesterday. I think the most important thing that Hillary and Isaw in Omagh yesterday was that even the people who have sufferedthe most from the testers of the peace don't want to give in tothem. They don't want to give in, they don't want to go back;they want to summon their strength and courage and lean on theirfriends and neighbors and go forward.
So the most important thing I can say to you heretoday is I hope you will continue to be a model for the world inresponsible citizenship. Ireland -- there hasn't been a day inthe last 40 years that some citizen of this great country has notbeen abroad in another land working for the cause of peace. Ihope you will continue to be a model of an open economy, wherepeople work together, instead of fight with each other, toincrease wealth, employment, opportunity and social harmony. AndI hope you will continue to labor for peace here -- because if wecan complete this peace process, as I said to the citizens ofArmagh yesterday, you can't imagine what it will enable theUnited States to do in trying to stand up for peace in otherparts of the world where people have fought over their religious,their racial, their ethnic, their tribal differences. I canalways then say, no, no, no, look at Ireland, when they tell meit can't be done.
So please know that the rest of the world has anenormous stake in the way your society conducts itself, in youreconomic success, in your social harmony, and in your passion forpeace. So far, you are doing much better than any of the rest ofus could ever have dreamed or hoped for, and the world is in yourdebt.
The United States is proud of our Irish ties, and Iam personally extremely grateful for what has been done here inthese last few years.
Thank you very, very much. (Applause.)