[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[September 3, 1998]
[Pages 1516-1517]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at a Groundbreaking Ceremony for Springvale Educational Village 
in Belfast
September 3, 1998

    Thank you very much, Margaret. Margaret and Gerard said everything 
that needs to be said. I feel sort of like a fifth wheel now. They, just 
standing here and speaking as they did, embodied everything I would like 
to say to you and everything you would like to say to each other and 
everything your better selves calls on all of you to do. And I thank 
them for being here.
    Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for your leadership in so many ways, 
large and small. Hillary and I are delighted to be back in Northern 
Ireland and to be here with you and Cherie. And I thank all those who 
were responsible for the Vital Voices conference at which Hillary spoke 
yesterday. I also would like to thank Secretary Mo Mowlam, who is one of 
the most remarkable people I ever met.
    I thank others who have made this possible. Mo mentioned the First 
Lady. I also would like to thank Willie McCarter, the Chairman of the 
International Fund for Ireland; Lord Smith of Clifton, Vice Chancellor 
of the University; Professor Patrick Murphy, the Director of the Belfast 
Institute. I thank the members of the new Assembly with us today, the 
Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon, David Ervine, Joe Hendron, and of 
course, Gerry Adams. We're glad to be in your constituency, and I echo 
the words of the Prime Minister.
    I thank the Americans who are here: the distinguished congressional 
delegation; the Secretary of Education, Dick Riley; the Secretary of 
Commerce, Bill Daley. You will notice, if you get a list of the Congress 
Members and the list of the people in the delegation, that--Assistant 
Secretary of Labor Kitty Higgins--there will be an enormous 
preponderance of Irish names in the American delegation here. And I 
thank them all. I thank especially Jim Lyons, my Special Adviser for 
Economic Initiatives, and Senator George Mitchell. I also would like to 
remember today our late Commerce Secretary, Ron Brown, who did so much 
to bring opportunity here and who envisioned this day that we celebrate.
    I want to say that, above all, the people who deserve recognition 
today are people on both sides of the peace line who need the work that 
will be done here. Here there is a site; there is a design; there are 
resources. But more than that, there is a glimpse of the future, that 
people so long torn apart will create something together that will 
benefit all.
    Of course, there remain those who oppose the vision all of you share 
for reconciliation and tolerance. Thank God they live in the past and 
their support dwindles. With courage, determination, and palpable pride, 
which we saw all up and down the streets today driving from the 
Waterfront Hall to here, it is clear that people have chosen peace and 
the chance for prosperity.
    These neighborhoods are your home, and you have taken them back. Now 
you are ready to move forward into a new century of hope, or, in the 
words of that great son of Belfast, Van Morrison, to ``walk down the 
avenues again'' because ``the healing has begun.''
    Indeed, the future has begun. And clearly the best path to a future 
that involves every citizen of every circumstance in every neighborhood 
is a strong education. Springvale Educational Village will help you get 
there. It will be a living, breathing monument to the triumph of peace. 
It will turn barren ground into fertile fields cultivating the world's 
most important resource, the minds of your people, providing opportunity 
not just for the young but for those long denied the chance for higher 
learning, creating jobs in neighborhoods where too many have gone 
without work for too long, bringing more technology and skill so that 
Northern Ireland at last can reap the full benefits of this new economy, 
creating unity from division, transforming a barbed wire boundary that 
kept communities apart into

[[Page 1517]]

common ground of learning and going forward together.
    Again, let me thank Gerry Adams, who has worked hard to bring 
justice and a better life to the people of this constituency. There is 
more to be done by people on all sides. But his words this week, and I 
quote, ``Violence must be a thing of the past, over, done with, gone''--
those words were music to ears all across the world, and they pave the 
way for the progress still to come. Thank you, sir.
    I am grateful that America was able to support Springvale working 
through the International Fund for Ireland, together with generous 
funding provided by the United Kingdom, the University of Ulster, and 
the Belfast Institute. All these allow us to break ground today.
    I also want to acknowledge the support of Gateway 2000, an American 
company which has such a strong presence in the Republic and which has 
announced plans to donate a state-of-the-art computer system when 
Springvale opens. And I'm proud of the people here in Northern Ireland 
who, once again, have moved beyond pain to accomplishment.
    Now you have, in the words of Seamus Heaney, a ``chance to know the 
incomparable and dive to a future.'' You have dared to dream of a better 
tomorrow. Now you dare to build one. That is even better. On this site 
and across this isle, what once seemed impossible is now becoming real. 
Don't stop.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:57 p.m. in a tent at the construction 
site. In his remarks, he referred to students Margaret Gibney, who 
introduced the President, and Gerard Quinn, who introduced Prime 
Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom; Prime Minister Blair's wife, 
Cherie Blair; United Kingdom Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 
Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam; William T. McCarter, chairman, International Fund 
for Ireland; Lord Trevor Smith, vice chancellor, University of Ulster; 
Professor Patrick Murphy, chairman, Belfast Institute of Further and 
Higher Education; Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon, and members David 
Ervine, Joseph Hendron, and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, Northern 
Ireland Assembly; former Senator George J. Mitchell, independent 
chairman of the multiparty talks in Northern Ireland; musician Van 
Morrison; and poet Seamus Heaney.