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12-12-2000 tribute to President Bill Clinton at St James Gate - Dublin

 

We are gathered today to pay tribute to President Clinton and to say a warm "thank you" to him for eight years of strong leadership which have helped bring the benefits of peace and prosperity to people in Ireland and to people all over the world.

We are gathered for this tribute to President Clinton in St. James' Gate in the heart of the Liberties in the greatest city in the world. The Liberties are one of Dublin's great communities and it is here that a great Irish businessman, Arthur Guinness, started to brew Guinness over 250 years ago, which in time became a global brand with strong links to Ireland.

The Guinness story reminds us that innovation and trade are very much part and parcel of the heritage of Dublin and this community. And we are working hard to make sure that innovation remains a hallmark of this country in the future too.

For example, here in the Liberties, plans are underway to develop a Digital Hub as part of our strategy for this country to be a leader in the new Internet enabled economy. At the heart of this district will be Media Lab Europe, a unique partnership between my Government and the world famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It will bring two global names together - Guinness and Media Lab - as symbols of the strong partnership across the Atlantic which is the grounds for our confidence about the future . We will build the future here, using the creativity of researchers and students, entrepreneurs and artists from Ireland and the whole world. And we will renew the fabric of this historic community and cherish its heritage.

As evidence of the same spirit of partnership in the new technologies, I am also pleased to announce that as a result of work by the National Research and Education Network Provider, HEAnet, broadband links are set to increase over 20 times between Irish and US research institutions. This will mean closer research co-operation in Internet 2 and Next Generation initiatives between our higher institutes of learning going forward.

Mr. President,

In the eight years of your Presidency, Ireland has changed and changed very fast. We have a new economy and a modern society.

The economy is now in its seventh year of sustained growth and has grown by over 9% per annum in the last three years. A key part of that success has been the social partnership model which has underpinned strong economic and social development. But we have also been fortunate to have benefited from a positive international economic environment, including a very positive and dynamic relationship with a strong US economy during the Clinton years.

In your term of office, the US has led in new technologies and US business has globalised. Ireland has proved exceptionally attractive as a location for them in Europe. Ireland has captured up to 10% of all US Foreign Direct Investment into the EU in recent years, and up to 40% of greenfield investment in electronics.

Many of the companies represented here today have invested hugely in Ireland in the past 8 years. Among these are Citibank, Dell, Gateway, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, IBM and Intel.

This pattern of investment is continuing. This year Intel announced that it is building a third microprocessor plant in Dublin at a cost of US$1.8 billion. American Home Products / Wyeth Medica are making the largest investment in bio-pharmaceuticals ever in the world, also in Dublin. And yesterday Cardinal Health announced a massive new European Centre in Longford involving investment of over US$100 million and resulting in 1300 new jobs.

We greatly value these companies and their contribution to Ireland. Truly it can now be said that the United States has repaid the role of the Irish in building America in an earlier age.

Mr. President,

Our economic success owes much to the great wave of prosperity and progress which America has enjoyed under your stewardship.

But you have also worked to ensure that prosperity is shared by all. You have led the debate about the need to make sure that the global economy brings economic, social as well as political benefits to communities around the world.

Mr. President,

You also brought the skills and energy you so generously gave to us to other troubled parts of the world. As with your work in Ireland, your term as President has been marked by a clear desire to understand the complexities of each conflict, to help where you could, and above all to make the world a better place.

You have fundamentally understood that the world is now one place.

We cannot look on the face of hunger and ignore it. Because the poor and the hungry will come to us.

We cannot see scenes of ecological or natural devastation and say, it has nothing to do with us. Because it will inevitably affect us.

We cannot say that disease elsewhere is not our problem. Because it will eventually come to everyone, unless it is stopped early in its tracks.

As an island with a open economy; as a society with people of Irish ancestry in every corner of the world; as a people who have had our share of human catastrophe, we in Ireland know instinctively that the world is a single village, as vulnerable or as strong as the human bonds within it.

You have understood this too Mr. President. You have helped shape and define America's responsibility in the world of today.

You have engaged with the cause of Africa and have given global leadership in the fight against diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS, which are undermining development in Africa.

The peace agreement being signed today in Algiers between Ethiopia and Eritrea would not have come about without the mediation efforts of your special envoy Tony Lake, who also played a decisive role in the early days of our peace process.

Mr. President,

You approached the situation in Northern Ireland with an open but determined mind. Open to all views, determined to make peace and make peace work.

You brought the authority of your office to the peace process but more importantly you brought the credibility of your skills and expertise.

For those of us involved in the negotiations before your involvement, we often found that mistrust and suspicion could be early and fatal enemies of progress. We had so many talks about talks and meetings about meetings, that future historians will be dizzy following them, much less understanding them.

But with your involvement, aided by Senator Mitchell's expert chairmanship, parties divided by suspicion could find the necessary assurance to take meaningful steps forward. They came to believe and trust that what was banked with you was good and safe and secure. Because of Washington's engagement, we could pile up the agreed pieces until we had the makings of a deal.

America's record as honest broker and plain speaker helped us all to forge an historic compromise in the Good Friday Agreement. That settlement should rightly be regarded as part of your legacy as peace maker.

The Good Friday Agreement is the common ground on which both traditions can stand. For that, it is uniquely historic and uniquely valuable.

More than that, it is the common ground for all Irish men and women wherever they are, however near or distant.

Mr. President,

Relations between our two countries have blossomed under your Presidency. Ireland has changed profoundly but I have confidence that Ireland and the United States will continue to develop the common bonds of friendship and family, of commerce and shared values, of ancestry and heritage.

Today, it is my honour to say a profound thank you for all that you have done to make "hope and history" rhyme as never before in this island.

Mr President,

You and your family will always be welcome here. We wish you God's speed and happiness as you all go forward now to a new phase of your important work . Go raibh mile maith agat.