THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Dublin, Ireland) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release December 1, 1995
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND PRIME MINISTER BRUTON IN AN EXCHANGE OF TOASTS
Dublin Castle Dublin, Ireland
8:35 P.M. (L)
MR. BRUTON: Mr. President, Finola and I heartily welcome you and your wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to our country. You have seen for yourselves and felt for yourselves the warmth of the affection and the admiration in which you are held throughout this island. The affection and admiration extends to you personally, to your administration, to the office that you hold, and particularly to the great country that you need.
We welcome, too, the bipartisan congressional delegation, representing your two great political parties who have come with you to Ireland.
Tonight is for remembering; it's for celebrating and it's for looking ahead. We think of past Presidents of the United States who have visited Ireland -- in June 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy captivated Ireland as he captivated the world. To us, he was not only a reminder of our past, but a vision of our future. We thank you for sending the late President's sister, Jean Kennedy Smith, to work with us now as your Ambassador. (Applause.)
The late President Richard Nixon visited this country in 1970. And President Ronald Reagan, who visited us in 1984, was, like you, a great friend of this country; a great man whose bravery in publicly acknowledging his illness has given courage, reassurance and consultation to millions across the globe who face the same challenge in their lives.
The ties which bind Ireland and the United States cover all human activity. The story of the Irish in America is the story of America itself. It's a tale of extraordinary success, shown in the presence here tonight of some outstanding Irish Americans. But to the spectacular achievements of the few must be added the lesser triumphs of the many -- Irish farmers and builders; policemen and nurses; teachers and firemen, who from Boston to San Francisco have made America what it is today.
In celebrating success let us not forget hardship. This is the 150th anniversary of the Great Famine which drove so many Irish to seek refuge in America, where they found a welcome and an ability to remake their lives through sheer hard work.
As Ireland itself changes, so, too, does its relationship with the United States. The highly educated Irish emigrants of the 1980s and 1990s are helping make America today a stronger and a better place. They moved back and forth between the old world and the new with facility and ease. And many returned here, having worked in the United States, to become part of the young internationally-minded, well-trained work force which, combined with a good tax and investment climate, make Ireland a natural home, a natural base for great United States cooperations like Intel, Motorola, Microsoft, and Abbott.
In the 74 years since the treaty of 1921, signed this week 74 years ago, this state of ours, born in fire, has transformed itself into a mature European democracy, secure in its ethos, open to the world and proud of its youth.
(Speaks in Gaelic.) (Applause.)
American political ideas of liberty, of government based on the consent of the governed and of the separation of powers, have inspired our Irish Constitution. Your Constitution also acknowledges the fact that people do not always agree. Your second President, John Adams, said that "America has been a theater of parties and feuds for nearly 200 years." Judging from your own recent experience, Mr. President, I think you might agree with him. (Laughter.)
But quarrels pass; ideas remain. The use of political power must be based on moral values. As President Jefferson said, "Our interests soundly calculated will ever be found inseparable from our moral duties." Moral duties freely followed are the best compass in personal relations, the best compass in domestic politics, and the best compass in foreign policy.
We admire the achievements of your administration in foreign policy -- in Haiti, in the Middle East, and most recently and most notably, in Bosnia. Your country's moral vision has helped bring peace and stability to the world. I know that I speak for all in Ireland when I say thank you from the depth of my heart for the sustained commitment that you have shown in bringing peace to this country. (Applause.)
At the beginning of your presidency you said that you'd be there for the Irish not just on one day of the year, but every day of the year. You have lived up to that. And so, too, has Vice President Gore, Secretary Christopher, Tony Lake and his staff, and Senator George Mitchell. You and they have given your time and your energies not only to myself and to the Tanaiste, but to many political figures from every side of the divide in Northern Ireland. You've shown balance, as you saw yesterday in Belfast and Derry. You've won respect and confidence right across the divide, across which it is almost impossible to win common respect -- the respect that you have won, Mr. President.
And America has backed its words with deeds, as we're seeing in the work of the International Fund for Ireland, and most notably, in the follow-through of your initiative, the Washington Conference on Investment in Ireland.
In Northern Ireland, the key to success and agreement is dialogue. And in dialogue, all must accept those on the other side as they are, not as they might wish them to be. Irish Nationalism is beginning to understand and respect Unionism. Unionists are beginning to understand and respect Nationalism. Both must coexist and must grow together.
The principle of consent is profoundly important. Consent means that the constitutional status of Northern Ireland cannot be changed without the agreement of the people there. But consent also means that the system of government in Northern Ireland must be one to which both communities can agree. In once sense, neither side has a veto. And yet, in another sense, both sides have a veto. So getting agreement isn't going to be easy.
And I believe that we will find in some words of yours, Mr. President, the inspiration that will help us find that illusive agreement. Let us think of all the good that people do on a daily basis -- in schools and health care and in business in Northern Ireland. Let us think of the kindness the people there continue to show to one another every day of the week, across the religious divide even at the height of 25 years of trouble. That spirit needs to be reflected in politics.
You said in your inaugural address, "There's nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America." I say there's nothing wrong with Northern Ireland that cannot be cured by what is right with Northern Ireland. There is nothing wrong between North and South on this island that cannot be cured by what is right between North and South on this island. And there's nothing wrong between Britain and Ireland that cannot be cured by what is already right between Britain and Ireland.
While you were still a presidential candidate, in an interview, I believe, to The New York Times in 1992 -- June, I believe it was -- you said, "If you live long enough you'll make mistakes. But if you learn from those, you'll be a better person. It's how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit." Do you remember saying that? (Applause.)
We will not quit. We will not quit in our search for a balanced, fair and just settlement on this island, and between this island and its neighbors to which all can give equal allegiance.
I'd like to propose a toast -- to the President and the people of the United States of America. The President and the people of the United States.
(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: To the Taoiseach and Mrs. Bruton, and to all of our hosts. Hillary and I are honored to be here tonight with all of you, and to be here in the company of some of America's greatest Irish Americans, including Senator George Mitchell, who has taken on such a great and difficult task; a bipartisan congressional delegation headed by Congressman Walsh; many members of the Ambassador's family, including Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Lt. Governor of Maryland; the Mayors of Chicago and Los Angeles; Secretary Riley, the Secretary of Education; Mark Gearan, Director of the Peace Corps. And as I said, we have the Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown, tonight, who wishes, more than ever before in his life, that he were Irish. (Laughter.) I think he is down deep inside. (Laughter.)
I thank you also for -- I see the Mayor of Pittsburgh here -- I know I've left out some others -- my wonderful step-father, Dick Kelley, who thought it was all right when I got elected President. But when I brought him home to Ireland he knew I had finally arrived. (Laughter and applause.)
You know, the Taoiseach has been not only a good friend to me in our work for peace, but a good friend to the United States. Indeed, he and Finola actually came to Washington, D.C. to celebrate their honeymoon. I think it's fair to say that his honeymoon there lasted longer than mine did. (Laughter and applause.)
I managed to get even with at least one member of Congress -- or former member of Congress -- when I convinced Senator Mitchell to give into the entreaties of the Taoiseach and the Prime Minister to head this arms decommissioning group. Now, there's any easy job for you. (Laughter.) You know, in Ireland I understand there's a -- our American country music is very popular -- Garth Brooks said the other day he sold more records in Ireland than any other place in the world outside America. So I told Senator Mitchell today that -- he was telling me what a wonderful day we had yesterday in Derry and Belfast, and what a wonderful day we had today in Dublin, and I said, "Yes, now you get to go to work." I said, this reminds me of that great country song, "I Got the Gold Mine and You Got the Shaft." (Laughter and applause.) But if anybody can bring out more gold, George Mitchell can. (Laughter.)
I want to thank the Taoiseach for the courage he showed in working with the Prime Minister of Great Britain, from the day he took office, taking up from his predecessor, Albert Reynolds, right through this remarkable breakthrough that he and Prime Minister Major made on the twin tracks that he helped to forge just two days ago. This is an astonishing development really because it is the first formulation anyone has come up with that permits all views to be heard, all voices to speak, all issues to be dealt with, without requiring people to give up the positions they have taken at the moment. We are very much in your debt.
This has been an experience like none I have ever had before. Yesterday, John Hume, who's joined us, took me home to Derry with him. And I thought to myself -- all my life "Danny Boy" has been my favorite song -- I never thought I'd get to go there to hear it. But thanks to John, I did.
And then we were before in Belfast. And all of you, I'm sure, were so moved by those two children who introduced me, reading excerpts from the letters. You know, I've got thousands and thousands of letters from Irish children telling me what peace means to them. One thing I am convinced of as I leave here -- that there is a global hunger among young people for their parents to put down the madness of war in favor of their childhood. (Applause.)
I received this letter from a teenager right here in Dublin. I thought I would read it to you, to make the point better than I could. This is just an excerpt: "With your help, the chances given to reason and to reasonable people, so that the peace in my country becomes reality. What is lost is impossible to bring back. Children who were killed are gone forever. No one can bring them back. But for all those who survive these sufferings, there is future."
The young person from Dublin who wrote me that was Zlata Filipovic, the young teenager from Bosnia who is now living here, who wrote her wonderful diary that captured the imagination of people all over the world.
I am honored that at this moment in the history of the world the United States has had the great good fortune to stand for the future of children in Ireland, in Bosnia, in the Middle East, in Haiti and on the toughest streets of our own land. And I thank you here in Ireland for taking your stand for those children's future, as well.
Let me say in closing that in this 150th anniversary of the Great Famine, I would like everyone in the world to pay tribute to Ireland for coming out of the famine with perhaps a greater sense of compassion for the fate of people the world over than any other nation. I said today in my speech to the Parliament that there had not been a single, solitary day -- not one day -- since 1958, when someone representing the government of Ireland was not somewhere in the world trying to aid the cause of peace. I think there is no other nation on Earth that can make that claim.
And as I leave I feel so full of hope for the situation here in Ireland and so much gratitude for you, for what you have given to us. And I leave you with these words, which I found as I was walking out the door from the Ambassador's Residence. The Ambassador made it possible for Hillary and me to spend a few moments this evening with Seamus Heaney and his wife, since I have been running around the country quoting him for two days. (Laughter.) I might say, without his permission. (Laughter.) And he gave Hillary an inscribed copy of his book "The Cure At Troy." And as I skimmed through it, I found these words, with which I leave you:
Now it's high water mark, and flood tide in the heart and time to go. What's left to say? Suspect too much sweet talk, but never close your mind. It was a fortunate wind that blew me here. I leave half ready to believe that a cripple's trust might walk and the half-true rhyme is love. Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.) I thought I had done something for a moment to
offend the Taoiseach -- he was forcing me on water instead of wine. (Laughter.)
Let me now, on behalf of every American here present, bathed in the generosity and the hospitality of Ireland, offer this toast to the Taoiseach and Mrs. Bruton and to the wonderful people of this great Republic.
(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)
END 8:05 P.M. (L)