Remarks at St. Patrick's Day Reception
The East Room
The White House
March 13, 2002
11:14 A.M. EST
Thank you very much. A hundred thousand welcomes to you all. I probably am not
going to try to say that in Gaelic. (Laughter.) But I have learned to pronounce
Taoiseach. (Laughter and applause.) Welcome back to the White House. It's good
to be able to welcome a friend to your home. The Taoiseach is a friend.
I want to thank John Reid, the Secretary of State of Northern Ireland, for being
here. John, how are you? He's on his honeymoon. (Laughter.) Sorry to disrupt
your honeymoon, but it's for a noble cause. (Laughter.)
David Trimble, the honorable David Trimble, first Minister of Northern Ireland
-- David, thank you for coming. Honorable Mark Durkan, appreciate you being
here. I want to thank all the other leaders from Northern Ireland. I want to
thank the ambassadors who are here. Members of Congress -- always a pleasure
to welcome you to the White House.
I want to thank you all for joining us in celebrating the memory of St. Patrick.
His generosity and love of liberty shaped Ireland. Through generations of immigrants,
those values have helped shape America. And we are a better country for it.
Today we also celebrate our common bonds and common purpose. From America's
earliest days, our nation has profited from the contributions of the men and
women of Ireland. In fact, over two centuries ago, it was an Irish boy born
in County Wexford, John Barry, who made vital contributions to America's independence,
and is recognized as one of the founders of the Department of Navy.
Today Ireland is supporting the coalition against terrorism. And we're proud
of your support. You've frozen the assets of terrorists. You're helping respond
to terror by leading the Security Council of the United Nations.
For tens of millions of Americans, our ties with Ireland are family ties. And
this number includes some very distinguished Americans. We're honored today
to have with us Irish American firefighters who served our nation so heroically
on September the 11th. They represent the best of the United States when they
displayed enormous strength and determination in the face of overwhelming tragedy.
And I want to thank you all for coming. And I want to tell you what I told you
before: We remember your colleagues. We will not forget your colleagues who
gave their lives trying to save the lives of others. Welcome to the White House.
The people of Northern Ireland know the threat of terror and they know the value
of peace. America is encouraged with the great strides that have been made in
implementing the Good Friday agreement. We see progress in the daily business
of the Northern Ireland Assembly, in the new class of police recruits drawn
from all communities in Northern Ireland, in the first act of decommissioning
taken last fall, and in the North-South Ministerial Council, which is promoting
cooperation across the border in agriculture and transportation and other areas.
The good citizens of Northern Ireland and the leaders here today have demonstrated
a fierce determination: the next generation must not grow up amid "the
For all communities in Northern Ireland, there's only one future, and it must
be a future of peace. Peacemaking can be hard work, like planting in hard soil.
And as the Irish proverb tells us, you'll never plough a field by turning it
over in your mind.
Important work remains and the United States stands ready to do its part. As
we gather here today to celebrate an old friendship and new hopes, let me open
this reception with a blessing: May the Irish hills caress you; may her lakes
and rivers bless you; may the luck of the Irish enfold you; may the blessings
of Saint Patrick behold you.
God bless Ireland and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)