[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[September 4, 1998]
[Pages 1531-1532]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at a Reception With Community Leaders in Dublin
September 4, 1998

    Thank you. Thank you, Taoiseach, Celia, ladies and gentlemen. 
Hillary and I and all of our American delegation are delighted to be 
here. I've been looking out in the crowd, and I see some Americans who 
have swelled the ranks even since I arrived in Ireland. Anytime we can 
pad your crowd, Taoiseach, we want to do that. [Laughter]
    I'd like to thank the Royal College of Surgeons for making it 
possible for us to be here and for setting a standard for international 
excellence. I know there are now students from over 40 nations here at 
this distinguished institution.
    If you would permit, before I get into my prepared remarks, I think 
that, for the benefit of the Americans here and because it's my only 
chance to talk to the press, I would like to make just a couple of 
comments on the terrible tragedy of the crashing of Swissair Flight 111.
    The victims, their families, their friends are very much in our 
thoughts and prayers. A very large number of those victims were American 
citizens, but also a large number were Europeans. And if you've been 
reading about it, you know that. It now appears that there were no 
survivors in what is the worst tragedy in the history of Swissair, with 
its very fine record. I have been fully briefed on the extensive efforts 
under way to recover the victims and to uncover what happened. And we 
will continue to do whatever we can to support the truly extraordinary 
efforts of the Canadian authorities. And I want to thank them for what 
they have done.
    Just for right now, I would like to ask all of you in your own way, 
if we could, just to take a moment to reflect in silence on this tragedy 
and on any senseless loss of life and ask that the families of the 
people who were killed be strengthened at this moment. Thank you very 

[At this point, a moment of silence was observed.]

    Amen. Thank you.
    Let me say to all of you, it's great to be back in Dublin. Even 
though there is a little rain in the air today, it's always bright and 
sunny for me here. The day that we were in College Green, in 1995, will 
go down for me as one of the great days of my Presidency and, indeed, 
one of the great days of my life.
    But these days have been good as well, working to cement the peace 
process. And I can't say enough about the role of the Taoiseach in 
making this Irish peace process come to fruition. I want to say a little 
more about it later in specific terms as we look ahead, but I just want 
to say to all you, you can be very proud of his leadership, as well as 
your own overwhelming vote for peace a few months ago.
    I'd also like to thank Ireland for setting a good example by 
building bridges to other nations by being such an open economy, by 
encouraging business ventures from around the world, and by working 
together here at home.
    We were talking, before we came in, about this whole concept of 
social partners and how all the elements of Irish society have worked 
together to give you what is, I believe, the highest growth rate in 
Europe now, of any country of Europe, because you have worked together 
to draw out the strengths of every element of this society and to 
minimize conflict.
    And all I can say is, I hope there will be more of this in the years 
ahead. I hope that success will whet your appetite for working together 
instead of causing, as success sometimes does, people to forget what 
brought them to the point of success. Because the Irish story is a truly 
astonishing, astonishing thing that I believe can be a model for nations 
large and small throughout the world.

[[Page 1532]]

    There has literally never been a better time, I don't suppose, to be 
Irish because of the economic success; because of the renaissance in 
writing, filmmaking; because of what so many people are doing in so many 
ways to advance the cause of peace. Of course, for me, your overwhelming 
vote for peace and your constant leadership for the peace process over 
the last several years are the most important things. And I would like 
to thank you, on behalf of the American people, for what you have done.
    I can also say that--to Prime Minister Ahern, that peace literally 
would not have happened, in my judgment, if it hadn't been for him. He 
led a campaign sometimes under great personal duress. His pleas for 
peace began early in his service. He has been fair and open. He has been 
terrifically effective in working with Prime Minister Blair and all the 
parties in both communities. There are many people from many backgrounds 
who deserve a lot of credit for this peace, including George Mitchell, 
whose name was mentioned earlier, but none more than Bertie Ahern. And I 
thank him for that.
    The last time I saw the Taoiseach I believe was on St. Patrick's Day 
in Washington. He always comes there and gives me my shamrocks and puts 
me in a good frame of mind. [Laughter] And then we always have a 
celebration at the White House in the evening, and everybody is in a 
good frame of mind. [Laughter] But we were especially happy this St. 
Patrick's Day because the sense of peace was in the air. We thought 
there was a real possibility for all that has happened to occur.
    We now know, from the tragedy of Omagh and from those three small 
boys that were killed, that there will be those who test the peace, who 
do not want to move into tomorrow, who are literally trapped in the 
patterns, the hatreds, the mindset of yesterday. I think the most 
important thing that Hillary and I saw in Omagh yesterday was that even 
the people who have suffered the most from the testers of the peace 
don't want to give in to them. They don't want to give in. They don't 
want to go back. They want to summon their strength and courage and lean 
on their friends and neighbors and go forward.
    So the most important thing I can say to you here today is, I hope 
you will continue to be a model for the world in responsible 
citizenship. Ireland--there hasn't been a day in the last 40 years that 
some citizen of this great country has not been abroad in another land 
working for the cause of peace. I hope you will continue to be a model 
of an open economy, where people work together, instead of fight with 
each other, to increase wealth, employment, opportunity, and social 
harmony. And I hope you will continue to labor for peace here because, 
if we can complete this peace process, as I said to the citizens of 
Armagh yesterday, you can't imagine what it will enable the United 
States to do in trying to stand up for peace in other parts of the world 
where people have fought over their religious, their racial, their 
ethnic, their tribal differences. I can always then say, ``No, no, no, 
look at Ireland,'' when they tell me it can't be done.
    So please know that the rest of the world has an enormous stake in 
the way your society conducts itself, in your economic success, in your 
social harmony, and in your passion for peace. So far, you are doing 
much better than any of the rest of us could ever have dreamed or hoped 
for, and the world is in your debt.
    The United States is proud of our Irish ties, and I am personally 
extremely grateful for what has been done here in these last few years.
    Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:05 p.m. at the Royal College of Surgeons. 
In his remarks, he referred to Prime Minister Bertie Ahern of Ireland; 
Celia Larkin, who accompanied Prime Minister Ahern; Prime Minister Tony 
Blair of the United Kingdom; and former Senator George J. Mitchell, 
independent chairman of the multiparty talks in Northern Ireland.