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Remarks Following Discussions With Prime Minister Garret FitzGerald of Ireland

March 17, 1986

The Prime Minister. I am very happy to be here on this day, and I'm very grateful to the President for having received me here.

We are, indeed, in Ireland grateful to the President for the support that he has given to the preparation of the agreement between Ireland and Britain and the support that he has offered in the aid program now before Congress. This agreement is one which brings together two countries which together have made, I think, a great contribution and perhaps, together, the major contribution to the United States, if I may say that without offense to any Italians or Germans present. It's an agreement which we hope will bring peace and stability to Northern Ireland. Our gratitude goes out to the President, to the Congress, and the people of the United States for the support they have given to us in what we're trying to do with the British Government in this respect.

I'd like to take this opportunity, offering to the President this gift on behalf of the people of Ireland. It is the centenary year of the Statue of Liberty. I think you've been having some repairs done to her at present, and this replica, carried out by a craftsman in Waterford, is something which we want to give from the people of Ireland to the people of the United States, because there were millions of Irish people who passed that statue and to whom it meant freedom-and to whom it gave freedom to them and their descendants. And it seemed to us an appropriate gift to make to you. I also want to offer you a gift of a bowl of shamrock, which is genuine shamrock and which I think should be enough for you, your Cabinet, or your family—anybody else around. [Laughter] So, I hope you will accept that on behalf of the Irish people; also, a renewed thanks, Mr. President.

The President. Thank you very much. Thank you.

The Prime Minister. Yes, he can keep the bowl, too. [Laughter]

The President. Well, Mr. Prime Minister, this is magnificent, and of course that is most appropriate and most welcome. And I'm delighted to be joined here by the Prime Minister of Ireland on St. Patrick's Day. When you mentioned those who came past that statue, my great-grandfather was one of them.

We've just had a most useful discussion-brief but important. And it's a distinct honor to receive the traditional shamrock and to wear it as an expression of shared hope for peace and good will in the year ahead. Our friendship for Ireland and the Irish people is deep and enduring. As I've said, I'm also honored to receive this Waterford crystal replica of the Statue of Liberty. Nothing stirs the heart like liberty, which is very much on our minds these days.

So, Mr. Prime Minister, I thank you very much for coming and look forward to seeing you later in the day. And, again, my heartfelt thanks for these gifts. Thank you.

Note: The Prime Minister spoke at 10:22 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. Earlier, the President and the Prime Minister met in the Oval Office.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks Following Discussions With Prime Minister Garret FitzGerald of Ireland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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