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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 16, 2001

Remarks by the President During Reception for Irish-American Leaders
The East Room

11:38 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. It sounds like we invited some rowdy Irish-Americans. (Laughter.) Thank you all for coming. Taoiseach, thank you very much, sir. Secretary of State of Northern Ireland, Dr. Reid; First Minister Trimble; Deputy First Minister Mallon. Thank you all for being here.

I want to thank the ambassadors who are here; I want to thank the other leaders from Northern Ireland who are here. It's most gracious of you to take your time to come and celebrate St. Patrick's Day with us. Mr. Speaker, it's good to see you again, sir, as well.

The Taoiseach and I just had an excellent meeting. We spent a good hour of frank dialogue. He gave me Dublin's perspective on the peace process in Northern Ireland, just as Prime Minister Blair gave me London's perspective when we met last month. An Irish proverb tell us that a friend's eye is a good mirror. And I can tell you that what is striking about my meetings with both Prime Ministers is how similar their perspectives are, how optimistic they are and how determined they are.

It is clear that all sides want the Good Friday Agreement to succeed. It is also clear that all sides are seeking to overcome very difficult internal obstacles and to keep up forward momentum. The agreement negotiated by both Prime Ministers in Belfast last week is a reflection of a common commitment. As always, we deeply appreciate the efforts.

And, again, I want to pledge what I said yesterday: the United States stands ready to help. (Applause.) It is in our national interest that there be a lasting peace, a real lasting peace, in Northern Ireland.

I also want to say how much I appreciate the contributions that Irish-Americans have made to the cause of peace. Many of you are right here in this room, and our nation thanks you. By supporting those committed to a peaceful approach, you're truly giving something back to your native land.

Today is also about celebrating what Irish-Americans have given to their adopted land. The White House itself was designed by an Irish-American. This fact about America's home is symbolic of the contributions made by millions of Irish of both Catholic and Protestant persuasion.

Your industry and talent and imagination have enriched our commerce and enriched our culture. The strong record of public service has fortified our democracy. And the strong ties to family and faith and community have strengthened our nation's character. In short, the Irish are a big reason why we'll always be proud to call ourselves a nation of immigrants. Happy St. Patrick's Day. (Applause.)

And now, would you join us, please, for some refreshments in the State Room. Welcome to the White House. (Applause.)

END 11:43 A.M. EST

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