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Remarks Announcing the Appointment of George Mitchell as Special Adviser for Economic Initiatives in Ireland

December 01, 1994

Good morning. Ladies and gentlemen, today is the last day of this session of Congress. And therefore, it's the last day that all of us in America have the privilege of having George Mitchell as the Senate majority leader. I will personally miss him very much, his wise counsel, his support, his strong leadership for the American people.

I know that his colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the American people will also miss his leadership and the thoughtfulness and the courage that have distinguished him throughout his long career. My regret about his retirement is tempered, at least in some measure, by the fact that as one chapter in his life of extraordinary public service closes, another is opening. Today Senator Mitchell has agreed to work on an issue of central importance to me and to our country as Special Adviser to the President and the Secretary of State for Economic Initiatives in Ireland.

We stand on the verge of a new and peaceful era in Northern Ireland. For over 3 months, the historic cease-fires between the IRA and the loyalist parliamentary groups have held. I welcome today's invitation by Downing Street to Sinn Fein to begin an exploratory dialog by December 7th. A just and lasting settlement that respects the rights and traditions of the two communities in Northern Ireland is, after so many years of bloodshed, finally within reach. But at this hopeful and historic moment, it's essential to create more economic opportunity in a region whose prospects have been so blighted by bloodshed. There must be a peace dividend in Ireland for the peace to succeed. Peace and prosperity depend upon one another.

One of the most important ways that we here in the United States can ensure that peace takes root is to promote trade and investment in the areas of Ireland that have suffered the most from violence. That's why last month we announced our economic initiatives for Ireland. They're a response to the call of all the parties in the region for the development that will help them to lift themselves out of the cycle of conflict and despair. As we have in the past, the United States stands ready to help those who are taking risks for peace. To do that, we'll work in close cooperation with the private sector here in the United States and with Britain, Ireland, and other concerned parties in Europe and elsewhere.

Ultimately, of course, the success of the peace process will depend most on those who have been most affected, on whether they believe it will give them a better future. That's why our initiatives to help revitalize the economy are so important and why I wanted someone of great talent, great stature, and great wisdom to lead in that effort here in the United States. No one fills that bill like George Mitchell. He will oversee the White House Conference on Trade and Investment in Ireland which will be held in April of next year in Philadelphia. I've asked him to ensure implementation of all the initiatives we announced last month, to explore additional opportunities for helping peace and prosperity grow in Ireland. He'll consult with the International Fund for Ireland, with the Congress, and with others to strengthen the Fund's programs. He'll also begin a dialog with the European Union, its individual member nations, and other nations to promote economic development in all these areas.

I believe in the weeks and months ahead, the people of Ireland will come to respect and admire George Mitchell just as much as all of us here in the United States have.

George, I am delighted today to be able to say thank you, again, for public service, and not just farewell.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:27 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House.

William J. Clinton, Remarks Announcing the Appointment of George Mitchell as Special Adviser for Economic Initiatives in Ireland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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