Bill Clinton photo

Remarks Welcoming President Mary Robinson of Ireland at Fort Myer, Virginia

June 13, 1996

President Robinson, Mr. Robinson, members of the Irish delegation. On behalf of the American people, let me begin by saying to President Robinson, Ceade mile failte, a hundred thousand welcomes.

It is a pleasure for me to return the tremendous hospitality that greeted Hillary and me and our American delegation on our visit to Ireland last fall. It is difficult to imagine being better received anywhere in the world than I was on Dublin's Green. It was a day that I will never forget. And I hope that President Robinson and the Irish delegation will feel just as welcome here in America today.

Since its first appearance in the annals of world history, Ireland has been a light unto nations. When darkness shrouded Europe 1,500 years ago, the learning of the Irish pierced the gloom. And Irish wisdom has continued to illuminate Western thought throughout the ages, from Saint Patrick to Swift to Yeats to Heaney.

In recent centuries, Ireland has sent the most brilliant gift of all to the world, the gift of its children. No nation has gained more than ours from the energy and determination these immigrants have carried with them when they departed Ireland's shores. Today, one of every six Americans claims Irish heritage. And even the awareness our Nation owes to the unwavering spirit of the Irish has brought to our country more than we can ever calculate.

President Robinson, you have spoken so eloquently about the extended Irish family abroad and of an Irishness that transcends territory. It gives us all great joy that today this Irish family is one.

In our time, Ireland's beacon shines as brightly as ever and, as in the beginning, it shines to the highest values of civilization. Ireland's devotion to building peace has made a small nation a great example for all the world. In its steadfast search for a just settlement in the North, Ireland has spared no effort and never faltered before taking a risk for peace.

The road to peace is almost never straight, and we've all felt the setbacks along the way. But just as Ireland has responded to the voices of hope in the North, so has America. Today I reaffirm my pledge to the people of Ireland: We will do all we can to help to realize the bright future of peace that is the birthright of every child of Ireland, North and South.

As they do at home, the Irish stand for peace in many distant lands. Every single day for almost four decades, Irish troops have been stationed abroad to preserve the peace in such places as the Congo and Somalia. At this moment they serve in nine different peacekeeping missions. And in Bosnia, members of the Irish Garda are training police so that that nation can rebuild itself and, by itself, maintain its peace growing now within the borders.

The United States and Ireland are bound by ties of kinship and friendship, commerce and culture. Above all, we share the bonds of belief, the determination to see peace take root and freedom prevail all around the world. Today we celebrate these ties. We resolve to strengthen them and to work together to see our common hopes realized and the lives of our citizens improved.

This is a happy day for America because in the hearts of so many Americans we have a special place for Ireland, and because we know that when we work with Ireland, we can make the world a better place.

President Robinson, welcome to the United States.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:28 a.m. at Summerall Field. In his remarks, he referred to President Robinson's husband, Nicholas Robinson.

William J. Clinton, Remarks Welcoming President Mary Robinson of Ireland at Fort Myer, Virginia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Simple Search of Our Archives