[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[May 7, 1998]
[Pages 715-716]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 715]]

Statement on New Initiatives in Support of Peace in Northern Ireland
May 7, 1998

    Today, I met with 10 women and men representing the WAVE Center in 
Northern Ireland, a support group for those who have been touched by the 
political violence of the past three decades. Each of these 
extraordinary individuals, representing both traditions in Northern 
Ireland, has suffered--losing members of their families or being badly 
wounded themselves. I was inspired by their courage in rejecting 
violence and working for lasting peace in a land where people are not 
labeled by religion or national preference, inspired by their vision of 
a future marked by reconciliation and cooperation. And I will never 
forget their personal stories of sorrow and suffering, stories which are 
shared by many people of both communities in Northern Ireland. WAVE 
proves hatred can be overcome by hope, division can give way to unity, 
as victims of Northern Ireland's tragic past work together for brighter 
    The Good Friday Agreement, forged by an extraordinary group of 
leaders representing the full range of Northern Ireland society and 
politics, offers the people of Northern Ireland the chance of a lifetime 
to secure a lasting peace. It is time for all the parties to say no--
once and for all--to violence and yes to hope, to make a decisive break 
with the past and launch a brighter future. There is no better way to 
honor the sacrifice of the people with whom I met today--and so many 
more like them.
    America has stood by those who have stood for peace, and we will 
continue to do our part to help the people of Northern Ireland realize 
tangible benefits of peace--so the despair that accompanied violence can 
give way to faith in the future.
    Since 1993, this administration and the Congress have contributed 
$100 million to the International Fund for Ireland for Northern Ireland 
and the border counties of the Republic of Ireland. I am today 
announcing a series of actions to bolster the foundations of peace.
    First, I am committed to seeing that the new West Belfast Springvale 
Campus project is completed. I intend to work with Congress to make 
available up to $5 million to make this happen. As a first step, I am 
directing Jim Lyons, my Adviser for Economic 
Initiatives, who is also our observer on the Board of the International 
Fund for Ireland, to confirm that the IFI will approve those funds. Four 
years ago, at our initiative, we and our partners in the IFI provided 
the initial £5 million that seeded this project. Straddling 
the peace line that once divided Protestant from Catholic, the 
Springvale Campus will give students of both communities the chance to 
acquire the education to match their indomitable spirit--and in so 
doing, encourage cohesion, community pride, and economic growth.
    I am asking the United States Information Agency to support the 
Springvale Campus with its full range of educational programs, including 
Fulbright, international visitors, and citizen exchanges. USIA will also 
foster links between Springvale and one or more American universities to 
promote cooperation between their faculties and establish long-term 
    Second, the United States is committed to helping the communities in 
Northern Ireland build the new institutions created by the April 10 
accord. The new Assembly will give the people both a voice and a stake 
in their peace, but the challenges to create a functioning institution 
are great. My administration will work with Congress to make available 
$500,000 as soon as possible to fund programs to support this effort.
    Third, Secretary Daley will visit 
Northern Ireland in early June with a high-level U.S. business 
delegation to intensify what is already a substantial economic 
relationship. With peace holding firm, there are strong business 
opportunities we must pursue now to boost prosperity and the hope for 
the future that is crucial to the foundations of peace.
    Fourth, USIA is supporting the collaboration of the Philadelphia 
Jobs Initiative with Worktrain, a Northern Ireland welfare-to-work 
initiative. I will meet with representatives of the two organizations 
during the U.S.-EU Summit in London.
    Finally, I am pleased to announce a Vital Voices Conference to be 
held in Belfast in early fall, with cosponsorship from the United States 
and regional partners. This conference will

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showcase and support women's role in the economic and political life of 
their society. The women of Northern Ireland--wives, mothers, and 
daughters--have borne an enormous share of the trauma of the Troubles. 
Now, their participation will be essential to build a future of peace 
and reconciliation. I've asked the First Lady to travel to Belfast to 
take part in this important conference.
    We have seen around the world how Americans have rallied to help the 
lands of their ancestors. I hope the Irish-American community will 
continue to support the voices of peace in Northern Ireland. My 
administration will continue to do all we can to foster hope and healing 
in Northern Ireland and to help its people build a new age of peace for 
their families and future generations.