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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Bush Speaks to Irish Leaders

Aired March 13, 2002 - 11:14   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We've just learned that President Bush is now in East Room of the White House. Let's go there.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ...friend into your home. The Taoiseach is a friend.

I want to thank John Reid, the secretary of state of Northern Ireland, for being here.

John, how are you? He's on his honeymoon.

(LAUGHTER)

Sorry to disrupt your honeymoon, but it's for a noble cause.

(LAUGHTER)

David Trimble -- the Honorable David Trimble, first minister of Northern Ireland. David, thank you for coming.

Honorable Mark Durkan. Appreciate you being here.

I want to thank all the other leaders from Northern Ireland.

I want to thank the ambassadors who are here.

Members of Congress. Always a pleasure to welcome you to the White House.

I want to thank you all for joining us in celebrating the memory of St. Patrick. His generosity and love of liberty shaped Ireland. Through generations of immigrants, those values have helped shape America and we are a better country for it.

Today, we also celebrate our common bonds and common purpose. From America's earliest days, our nation has profited from the contributions of the men and women of Ireland. In fact, over two centuries ago, it was an Irish boy born in County Wexford, John Berry, who made vital contributions to America's independence and is recognized as one of the founders of the Department of Navy.

Today, Ireland's supporting the coalition against terrorism, and we're proud of your support. You've frozen the assets of terrorists; You're helping respond to terror by leading the Security Council of the United Nations.

BUSH: For tens of millions of Americans, our ties with Ireland are family ties, and this number includes some very distinguished Americans. We're honored today to have with us Irish-American firefighters who served our nation so heroically on September the 11th. They represent the best of the United States when they displayed enormous strength and determination in the face of overwhelming tragedy.

And I want to thank you all for coming, and I want to tell you what I told you before, We remember your colleagues. We will not forget your colleagues who gave their lives trying to save the lives of others. Welcome to...

(APPLAUSE)

The people of Northern Ireland know the threat of terror; they know the value of peace. America is encouraged with the great strides that have been made in implementing the Good Friday Agreement. We see progress in the daily business of the Northern Ireland Assembly, in the new class of police recruits drawn from all communities in Northern Ireland, in the first act of decommissioning taken last fall, and in the North/South Ministerial Council, which is promoting cooperation across the border in agriculture and transportation and other areas.

The good citizens of Northern Ireland and the leaders here today have demonstrated a fierce determination, and the next generation must not grow up amid the Troubles.

For all communities in Northern Ireland, there is only one future, and it must be a future of peace. Peacemaking can be hard work, like planting in hard soil, and as the Irish proverb tells us, "You'll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind." Important work remains, and the United States stands ready to do its part.

As we gather here today to celebrate an old friendship and new hopes, let me open this reception with a blessing: "May the Irish hills caress you, may her lakes and rivers bless you, may the luck of the Irish enfold you, may the blessings of St. Patrick behold you."

God bless Ireland and God bless the United States of America.

HARRIS: President Bush there, and get his remarks from the East Room of the White House there, welcoming the crowd, which included a number of dignitaries and political leaders from Ireland and Northern Ireland.

He says that the U.S. is -- he is encouraged by the progress in implementing the Good Friday Accords, that we have seen happening, and as well as the steps taken towards fortifying the peace in Northern Ireland. He says it is important work remains U.S. Stands ready to do its part.

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