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Visit of Prime Minister John M. Lynch of Ireland Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony.

November 08, 1979

THE PRESIDENT. An Taoiseach [Prime Minister], welcome to you.

This is a wonderful occasion for our Nation to welcome to our country the Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland, the President of the European Community, and a great friend of the United States. In all three of these roles, Mr. Prime Minister, you're welcome to the United States of America.

You represent a nation which is the ancestral home of 20 million American citizens, so we are bound to you in many ways. We are bound to you because we share common goals, the goals of democracy and freedom, the goals of peace, the goals of mutual trade and common benefit and respect for basic human rights, not only in our own nations but throughout the world.

It's a great pleasure to have you here, because your friendship is continuing a longstanding relationship between our two countries. More than 200 years ago, before we had a country, as a matter of fact, the people of Ireland proved to be our friends. Benjamin Franklin visited Dublin as an emissary of the colonies to ask for the support and encouragement of the people of Ireland and for our own independence and our own freedom. Your people gave us that support and that encouragement. We're grateful to you. Since then we've shared a mutual understanding and a mutual sympathy for the ideals and aspirations and hopes and dreams of the people of this Nation and the people of yours.

You come here representing not only a great nation but carrying a great and powerful international voice. The soldiers representing your country are now serving to preserve the peace in the Congo, in Cyprus, in Lebanon, in a benevolent action, and also actions requiring a great deal of personal courage, which has always been a characteristic of the Irish people.

You come here representing leadership in the councils of Europe, and we have benefited greatly from close personal consultations with you on matters that affect the entire European community because you occupy the Presidency of that great body of sovereign nations.

We share other things in common not quite so pleasant. We both have experienced the adverse consequences of terrorism, of a threat of violence, of murders perpetrated and murders threatened against innocent people. Those who advocate violence and terrorism violate the laws of God and the laws of man.

I look forward to our discussions this morning, again this evening, and tomorrow, because we have so many ways in which our two nations in harmony can promote the common aspirations of our people, a quest for a peaceful and a just society for the people of your nation, for the people of the United States, and the entire world.

Mr. Prime Minister, on behalf of all Americans, but particularly on behalf of all of those of us who bear Irish blood in our veins, we welcome you from a great country to a great country. Thank you for coming.

THE PRIME MINISTER. I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for your very kind words, for your gracious tribute to my country, for each contribution towards building this great United States of America and to its contribution towards keeping world peace by having our soldiers serve with U.N. forces in different parts of the world—in the Congo, in the Middle East, in Lebanon, in Cyprus—and indeed, such is our commitment, even though it does impose a strain on us, we are very glad and willing to give it.

My wife and I were very, very delighted to have received earlier this year your invitation, Mr. President, to come and visit you formally, and we certainly looked forward with much anticipation to this visit today, as we do to our visits to many of your other great American cities in the course of the next 7 or 8 days.

I am very proud to be here as the head of a government which has always had warm and friendly relations with the elected leaders of the United States. I trust that these relations and our political ties will be strengthened in some way as a result of this visit.

I'm deeply aware that I represent people, people that always have had special, close bonds, both material and spiritual, with the people of America. We in Ireland, as you know, are your closest friends in Europe and, may I add, certainly amongst your best friends anywhere. We look with pride and affection on the ties that bind our two countries together. Our history, both histories, have many common strands. Perhaps nowhere is this better illustrated than here in the White House, which has served no fewer than 12 U.S. Presidents of Irish descent.

The architect of the house was one James Hoban, who sailed to America from Ireland in 1785. He is said to have adapted his design for the White House from the house called Leinster House in Dublin, which is the seat of the Irish Parliament. Indeed, Hoban probably inspired the very name of the White House, because when, in 1814, it was demolished by fire, he advised in the course of his restoration that all the exterior walls be painted white.

Another aspect of my visit to your country, as you have observed, Mr. President, is that I am currently a President of the European Council, that is, President of the Council of Heads of State or Government of the European Economic Communities. As you know, this Presidency changes every 6 months amongst the member countries, and now there are nine. Next year we will have 12 [10], with the accession of Greece, and perhaps in a few more years we will be 12, with the accession of Spain and Portugal.

The Community is already the largest trading bloc in the world. One of the Community's primary aims is the advance of economic equality throughout its member states. As the Community strengthens economically, its political influence increases. That influence is being and will be used to promote peace and stability throughout the whole world.

A recent example of this type of activity was the completion by the Irish Presidency, on behalf of the Community, of the second Lome Convention, which provides for aid for 58 developing countries in Africa, in the Caribbean, and in the Pacific.

I recall that my last visit to the White House was in January 1973, just after Ireland had acceded to the European Economic Community. And I can say that our accession has brought prosperity to our farms, our industries, and our businesses, and has added a whole new dimension to Ireland's role in the world.

In 1979 in the Community we have passed two milestones along the road to a more united Europe. One was the introduction of the European monetary system, and the second was the holding of the world's first truly international elections, the free elections to the new European parliament.

The peoples of the United States and Europe possess a common heritage in the fields of culture, literature, and the arts. We also share a belief in fundamental rights and freedoms, the dignity of the individual, and the sanctity of human life.

I was very glad this morning to hear you, Mr. President, denounce again the taking of human life for no matter what purpose by terrorists, abhorring as we all do the activities of those terrorists and those who help them to carry out their vile and horrific deeds.

But apart from having these things in common, we have at the same time, in both America and Europe, a fascinating variety of people and lifestyles. I am sure you will join with me, Mr. President, in hoping that the political institutions which we have will take account of this diversity.

Finally, I want to take advantage of this occasion to express to you, Mr. President, my sincere thanks for your generous statement in August 1977 on the situation in Northern Ireland, in which you pledged the complete support of the United States for the people of Northern Ireland in their quest for a peaceful and just society. In the words of your own Declaration of Independence, written over two centuries ago, "Governments derive their powers from the consent of the governed." And that's of utmost importance. This principle is one to which we, in Ireland, are dedicated today and one on which we consider that progress in Northern Ireland must be based.

On behalf of the Government of Ireland, Mr. President, I wish to express our best wishes to you and to the continued prosperity and happiness of your great nation. To the people who came to witness this ceremonial this morning, I say thanks on behalf of the people of Ireland, and to all of you Americans, President downwards, as we say in Ireland, Bail 6 Dhia ort fein agus ar do chuid oibre, may God bless you and bless your work.
Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:45 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Visit of Prime Minister John M. Lynch of Ireland Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/248754

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