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President Welcomes Irish Leaders to White House

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 13, 2003

President Welcomes Irish Leaders to White House
Remarks by the President in Shamrock Ceremony
The Roosevelt Room

9:38 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Taoiseach, and welcome back to the White House. Laura and I are honored you came and really glad you're here.

On behalf of the American people, I thank you for the bowl of shamrocks and the good fortune they promise. This annual gift symbolizes the deep and enduring friendship between our two countries. The strong ties between Ireland and the United States reach back centuries.

These strong ties have been affirmed at critical moments in our country's history. It is said that during the Revolutionary War an Irish-American woman, Lydia Darragh, provided valuable intelligence to George Washington's troops, helping prevent a planned British offensive. During the Civil War the famed Irish Brigade fought valiantly on the Union side in terrible battles, some not far from where we stand.

And throughout America's history, we have benefitted from the industry and the talents and the ideals of millions of Ireland's sons and daughters. Today, our two countries share a deep commitment to building a world of peace and security and prosperity and freedom. We've stood together in Afghanistan, in Kosovo, in Bosnia and beyond, to stop aggression and to alleviate suffering. Ireland is a valued member of the coalition against global terror. And we thank you, sir.

The American people appreciate Ireland's work on U.N. Security Council -- on the U.N. Security Council to help secure passage of the Resolution 1441. That resolution demanded that Iraq disarm itself of all weapons of mass destruction. We appreciate our own support for ensuring that the just demands of the world are enforced. The responsibilities of freedom are not always easy to bear, but Ireland and America are joined by a common commitment to freedom's defense against tyranny and terror.

Our two countries also stand together in another cause, working to achieve lasting peace in Northern Ireland. Recent years have seen historic progress thanks to the tireless efforts of Prime Minister Ahern and Blair and many other people who long for peace. Now, all parties can, and must, build on this progress, so that the people of Northern Ireland can replace old resentments with new cooperation and new hope. America has long supported this vital work, and today, that support endures and continues. We will help where we can.

St. Patrick's Day reminds us of the close ties of family and friendship between our countries, but everyday -- every day of the year, America is proud to call Ireland a friend.

Taoiseach, may good fortune be yours, may your joys never end, may good luck be with you wherever you go, and your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow. Welcome. (Applause.)

END 9:44 A.M. EST

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