[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[March 17, 1995]
[Pages 367-369]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]



Remarks at a Saint Patrick's Day Ceremony With Prime Minister
John Bruton of Ireland and an Exchange With Reporters
March 17, 1995

    The President. Good morning. Please be seated. Happy St. Patrick's 
Day. It's a great pleasure for me to welcome the Prime Minister here. 
This is the Taoiseach's first visit to the United States since he 
assumed office. So on this St. Patrick's Day, I think we should begin 
with an appropriate greeting, Ceade mile failte, a hundred thousand 
welcomes.
    Mr. Prime Minister, I think, in this symbolic ceremony, you should 
go first. So I want to turn the microphone over to you.
    Prime Minister Bruton. Thank you very much. Mr. President, Mr. Vice 
President, Secretary of State, ladies and gentlemen: It's a wonderful 
honor for me to be received here as the leader of an Irish Government of 
a country, Ireland, that's now at peace, at peace after 25 years of 
violence.
    I want to say that you, Mr. President, probably as much as any 
individual, have helped to bring that about. When you look back on your 
administration, I think the bringing of peace to Ireland will rank as 
one of your major personal achievements. The willingness that you 
showed, Mr. President, to take risks, to do things that many of us might 
have thought were foolhardy at the time, like granting a visa to Gerry 
Adams--it has been proven to be--you have been proven to be right. You 
made the right decision.
    The results are there for all of us to see, because you gave that 
organization the sense of confidence in itself and a glimpse of the 
political dividend that was there for them by pursuing a peaceful rather 
than a violent path. That vista that you opened up to them by that 
decision enabled them, gave them the confidence to end their campaign 
and take a new road.
    Others need to show similar courage and generosity. And I know that 
the United States will be willing to play the same crucial role in being 
a friend to all in Ireland and encouraging all in Ireland to be generous 
risktakers, as you have been, Mr. President, in your dealings with 
Ireland since the commencement of your administration.
    My purposes in coming here today, on St. Patrick's Day, is to thank 
you very, very much, from the bottom of my heart, for what you have done 
and to look forward to working with you and your administration and, 
indeed, Congress on a bipartisan basis on building on this, your great 
achievement.
    The President. Thank you.
    Prime Minister Bruton. Now, Mr. President, it is my high honor to 
present you with some shamrocks to celebrate this great day.
    The President. Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister, for the 
beautiful gift, the beautiful Irish crystal. I hope the shamrocks will 
bring us the luck of the Irish over the next few months. [Laughter]
    Today we don't have to look much further than the green ties and the 
dresses in this room to be reminded of the bonds between the United 
States and Ireland, the common heritage we share and have shared since 
the beginning of our country's existence. Much of America's love of 
freedom has Irish roots, whether our ancestors were Catholics or 
Protestants. Four signers of the Declaration of Independence were born 
in Ireland. At least nine more were of Irish descent. And many of our 
bravest soldiers in the Revolutionary War were Irish-Americans.

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    Today the Irish are still fighting the good fight, the fight for 
peace in Lebanon and Somalia and the Balkans. Irish troops under U.N. 
command have braved great dangers in the quest for peace. Ireland has 
also opened a school to train U.N. peacekeepers from other nations so 
that we may all benefit from Ireland's experience.
    Ireland has demonstrated its commitment to peace most powerfully, of 
course, in the efforts to end the violence in Northern Ireland. On this 
St. Patrick's Day, as the Taoiseach said, Northern Ireland is closer 
than at any time in a generation to a just and lasting settlement of the 
differences of the people who share that small country's land.
    At this historic moment, I salute Prime Minister Bruton for his 
tireless efforts for peace and for continuing the work of his 
predecessor, Prime Minister Reynolds, in completing the joint framework 
document for Northern Ireland with the British Prime Minister, John 
Major, who also deserves our salutes for the brave risks that he has 
taken to make peace. This is a landmark step for all the parties to 
bring them together and forge a new partnership for reconciliation.
    Today I want to take this opportunity, this St. Patrick's Day, once 
again to urge all the parties to look carefully at the framework, to 
accept it as the basis for moving forward. I call on all those who still 
resort to violence to end the beatings, the intimidations, the 
shootings. To those who have laid down their arms, I ask you now to take 
the next step and begin to seriously discuss getting rid of these 
weapons so they can never be used again and violence will never again 
return to the land.
    I welcome the statement by Sinn Fein, reiterating its readiness to 
include the issue of weapons in the talks with the British Government. 
It must be included, and progress must be made.
    As we have in the past, the United States stands ready to help those 
who are taking risks for peace. Our economic initiatives in Ireland are 
proceeding under the supervision of former Senator George Mitchell. In 
May we are hosting a White House Conference on Trade and Investment in 
Ireland. And there's tremendous interest in this conference from our 
private sector.
    Mr. Prime Minister, the United States will continue to support your 
efforts and those of Prime Minister Major. You have done very much to 
bring the prospect of a new day to Northern Ireland.
    I'm also pleased to announce that beginning April 1st, Irish 
citizens visiting the United States on vacations or business will no 
longer require visas. This step is another demonstration of our 
confidence in the future of Ireland and the strong ties between our 
nations.
    I finally want to say that I am very much looking forward to our 
reception tonight at the White House. I'm glad that you, Mr. Prime 
Minister, and Mrs. Bruton will join us. And we're going to have a high 
old Irish time. [Laughter]
    In closing, let me thank the Secretary of State and our fine 
Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith, for the work they have done 
in supporting the White House and the President in our efforts to help 
you bring peace.
    Thank you all very much.

Northern Ireland Peace Process

    Q. Mr. President, may I ask you, first of all, how you have reacted 
to what appears to be an implied British Government criticism of your 
decision to allow Mr. Adams to come into this country? And do you agree 
with those other Irish-Americans who seem to believe that the British 
Government and that John Major is being slow, too slow, in allowing his 
ministers to talk to Mr. Adams?
    The President. Well, let me answer it in this way. First of all, I 
have had a good relationship during my Presidency with Prime Minister 
Major. And the United States has had a very unique and powerful 
relationship with Great Britain for a very long time. We may differ from 
time to time about the specific actions that each would take, but our 
goal is the same. And I think we all have to recognize the risks that 
Prime Minister Major has taken for peace within the context in which he 
must operate.
    So I look forward to having a chance to visit with him in the next 
couple of days about this, and I'm basically very positive about it. And 
if you're the President of the United States, there are days when you're 
grateful for implied criticism. Most of it's expressed. [Laughter]
    Q. Mr. President, you were asking for people who have guns and have 
used them in Ireland to take the next step. How soon do you think that 
next step might be taken by the IRA and Sinn Fein?

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    The President. Well, I know that it couldn't come soon enough for 
me. And this whole business about weapons decommissioning is, obviously, 
critical to the completion of the process. And we here in the United 
States have reached out not only to Sinn Fein but also to the Unionists. 
The Prime Minister has pointed that out. The Vice President and my 
National Security Adviser have, on more than one occasion, tried to 
establish contacts to make sure we were reaching out to everyone in 
Northern Ireland.
    And the important thing to me is that we keep pushing this process 
and keep it going in the right direction. And I have every confidence 
that that will occur.
    Wolf [Wolf Blitzer, Cable News Network].

Russia

    Q. Mr. President, President Yeltsin announced that he's willing to 
eliminate military hardware from his V-E parade on May 9th in order to 
encourage you to join others in Moscow to celebrate the 50th anniversary 
of the end of World War II. Is that enough to encourage you to go to 
Moscow, and will you include a trip to Ireland after that? [Laughter]
    The President. Well, I appreciate what President Yeltsin said today. 
And I expect to be making a decision about that whole set of issues very 
shortly. And when I do, I'll announce it.
    Q. Mr. President, is Chechnya the stumbling block?

Northern Ireland Peace Process

    Q. Mr. President, What pressures can the U.S. administration bring 
on Sinn Fein, particularly in regards to the decommissioning of arms? 
And was there a quid pro quo in that area for your granting a visa to 
Gerry Adams to fundraise in the United States?
    The President. Well, certainly his prompt statement about the 
willingness of Sinn Fein to discuss arms decommissioning had an 
influence on my decision. I think it's important that the United States 
take some steps along the way, as the Prime Minister has said, to keep 
this process going. When others take appropriate steps, I think it makes 
it a lot easier for us to do the same thing.
    Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:40 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the 
White House. In his remarks, he referred to Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn 
Fein.