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pd30au99 Remarks at a Reception Honoring the First Lady in Nantucket...

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[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page i-ii]
Monday, August 30, 1999
Volume 35--Number 34
Pages 1655-1667

[[Page i]]

Weekly Compilation of



[[Page ii]]



Addresses and Remarks

        American Ireland Fund dinner in Nantucket--1655
        Fundraiser for Martha's Vineyard Hospital in Martha's Vineyard--
        Reception honoring the First Lady in Nantucket--1658
    Radio address--1657

Communications to Congress

        National emergency, letter transmitting report--1662
        Weapons of mass destruction programs, letter transmitting 

Executive Orders

    Amendment to Executive Order 12216, President's Committee on the 
        International Labor Organization--1666


    America Goes Back to School--1665
    Minority Enterprise Development Week--1663
    Small Manufacturing Week--1664
    Women's Equality Day--1661

Statements by the President

    Miami International Airport, counterdrug operations--1663
    Patients' Bill of Rights legislation, proposed--1659
    Turkey, earthquake--1658

Supplementary Materials

    Acts approved by the President--1667
    Checklist of White House press releases--1667
    Digest of other White House announcements--1667
    Nominations submitted to the Senate--1667

Editor's Note: The President was in Martha's Vineyard, MA, on August 27, 
the closing date of this issue. Releases and announcements issued by the 
Office of the Press Secretary but not received in time for inclusion in 
this issue will be printed next week.


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[[Page 1655]]

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 1655-1657]
Monday, August 30, 1999
Volume 35--Number 34
Pages 1655-1667
Week Ending Friday, August 27, 1999
Remarks at an American Ireland Fund Dinner in Nantucket, Massachusetts

August 20, 1999

    Thank you very much. Let me begin by joining others in thanking Bob 
and Mia for having us in their beautiful, beautiful home and making us 
all feel at home. I thank Jack and Lyle for their work on the 
fundraisers and for all the many things they've done for me over many, 
many years. I thank all the board members of the American Ireland Fund 
who are here.
    And I congratulate you on honoring Tim Russert. You know, most of us 
who have tried to be professionally Irish--[laughter]--you know, we get 
our Irish shtick down, you know. This is about the best I've ever seen. 
[Laughter] And I say it because--it is because it's genuine. You could 
feel it. You could feel it. His heart was in his remarks. You could see 
it was yesterday that he was a young man writing that statement for 
Senator Moynihan.
    For the American Irish, which is probably the largest diaspora in 
the world, the last 30 years of the Troubles have been a source of 
enormous heartbreak and frustration and sometimes downright disgust--but 
always, always, love. And I want to thank Tim for his continuing 
passionate commitment to the principles of peace and equality in 
Ireland. And I thank you for honoring him.
    I also want to thank you more than I can say for honoring Hillary 
with the proceeds of this fundraiser to Vital Voices. In so many ways in 
Ireland, we have moved almost in two different worlds in the last 6\1/2\ 
years. And sometimes, I think her world will have more to do with 
whether peace really takes hold than the one that I have moved in.
    The first big decision I had to make was whether to give a visa to 
Gerry Adams. Remember? [Applause] And I was told--here I was, this 
ardent Anglophile who had spent 2 years in college in England and knew 
most of the Kings of England in order and all of that sort of stuff, and 
the Queen--and they said, ``Well, if you do this, you will just destroy 
the special relationship between the United States and Britain.'' And I 
said, ``Well, if I don't do it, we're never going to get anybody off the 
dime over there.''
    And so we made it absolutely clear that we would not tolerate 
terrorism, that this trip could not be used to raise money to buy guns 
or ammunition, that this was to be a gesture of peace. Well, the rest is 
history--good, bad, and indifferent, but at least it got us off the 
dime. And the Irish people have pretty well done the rest. They voted 
for the Good Friday accords in overwhelming numbers. We had the 
parliamentary elections following on them. We've had a lot of 
institutions start.
    But let me say that I think one of the things that made all this 
possible is the American Ireland Fund for the last 20 years. Why? 
Because all that money you raised and put in there created opportunity 
after opportunity after opportunity for people, and so they saw there 
could be a different future.
    You know, one of the problems you have if you go into a place like 
Kosovo now, to get people to quit killing each other and staying in the 
same old rut--hating people because they're not in their tribe and the 
way they worship God or their ethnic group--is that they cannot imagine 
a tomorrow that is different from yesterday and today.
    The American Ireland Fund, by just being there, in Ireland and in 
Northern Ireland for 20 years, you know, the place is booming now, but 
for most of the last 20 years it was about the poorest country in 
Europe. And you were there, day-in and day-out, month-in and month-out, 
year-in and year-out, and I am telling you it made a difference. I know. 
I've been there. I've been on the streets. I've been in those 
neighborhoods. I've seen your projects. I've seen the people you've 

[[Page 1656]]

    And so as we move forward, you ought to remember that one of the 
reasons that the Good Friday accords were overwhelmingly embraced by the 
people in the Republic and in Northern Ireland, is that they could 
visualize a different tomorrow. And the American Ireland Fund helped 
them to do that, and you should be very proud of yourself.
    But one of the things that I have learned from the Middle East, from 
Northern Ireland, from Kosovo and Bosnia, from the tribal wars in Africa 
I've tried to help deal with, is that in addition to people being able 
to visualize a different tomorrow, you have to have leaders who can let 
    There was reconciliation in South Africa because Nelson Mandela 
could let go; and he had a whole lot more to let go of than most of the 
Irish do. I mean, let's fess up here. [Laughter] He had a lot more to 
let go of than most of the Irish do. But because he could let go, we 
were able to make peace. And that's why I said what I did about Hillary 
and the Vital Voices.
    We've had some of these women in the White House in the Oval Office. 
They're very practical. I mean, people that have buried their children. 
They still get up in the morning and they have to go to the store and 
buy food, and they have to do this, that, and the other thing--do 
practical things, and they are enormously practical people. And they 
have no vested interest in the continuation of the conflict.
    And so I say to you that helping these people in Vital Voices will 
make more than the park that Hillary talked about; there will be lots of 
parks like that and lots of things that people will do together. And 
you've got to get these kids out here. You see--if you see kids in 
Ireland, if you see kids in the Middle East, if you see kids anywhere 
who get to each other soon enough before they're taught how to hate, 
they change the whole future.
    And the last thing I want to say is this: You all--those of you who 
are really interested in this, you know what the deal is now. We had a 
big election, and the Good Friday accord was approved. Then we had 
elections for Parliament, and they worked. They were honest and they 
were full and everybody got into the Parliament at Stormont. And I went 
there and shook hands with them all.
    But the agreement that said anybody that got over a certain 
percentage of vote in the election would also be in the executive 
branch--and Sinn Fein got enough to get in--the agreement also said that 
there would be decommissioning that would be finished within 18 months 
according to a schedule to be set up by the Commission, which now is 
headed by General de Chastelain, the former Canadian Chairman of the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff.
    So we're back to that old trust issue because the Unionists don't 
want Sinn Fein in the executive until they have a symbolic act of 
decommissioning, and the IRA say, ``Well, we don't want to do that until 
we know we're not going to get snookered.'' Well, obviously, this is at 
some level, it almost looks like two kids daring each other to go first.
    But if you look beneath that, the IRA say, ``Well, it's our people 
that voted for the peace. We wanted to render our arms to them, not to 
the other side and have them claim that they got some victory over us; 
this is a victory that the people together voted for.'' So this argument 
goes on endlessly.
    Now, let me tell you, the good news is that everybody on all sides 
agrees to all parts of the Good Friday accords; everybody on all sides 
agrees that it all has to be done by next May. Nobody wants to get rid 
of anything else about the agreement, and the only problem we've got 
left is the sequencing of standing up the executive branch and 
decommissioning. That is all that will be discussed when Senator 
Mitchell reconvenes the group on September 6th. And when the Good
Friday agreements were reached, it was anticipated that roadblocks might 
develop, and so they set this up.
    So all I would say to all of you is that part of this problem is 
trust. And at some point, they're going to have to figure out a way that 
they're both trusting each other at the same time. So you get out of 
this, ``you go first.'' You know, it's like two kids standing on a big 
old diving board holding hands and looking down into a deep pool.
    Part of it is that, unlike the women that Hillary deals with in 
Vital Voices, some of these folks have been doing this for so long that 
their whole identity is caught up in the

[[Page 1657]]

continuation of the conflict. I say this in all respect. I'm not 
attacking them, but it's true.
    So what we have to do is to find ways to help them let go. And 
that's why the work of the American Ireland Fund is still important. 
Even though the economy is going like crazy--I've talked to Tony Blair 
and Bertie Ahern about this repeatedly--we have got to target those 
critical decisionmakers and give them an image of a life they can have 
that will be meaningful and rich--I don't mean materially rich; I mean 
it'll have a lot of texture and meaning and standing in the community if 
they let go.
    So thank you for what you've done. Thank you for supporting Vital 
Voices. The women are doing better than the men now in promoting peace, 
for the reasons I've said. [Laughter] But this deal in September may be 
our last chance for a generation, and we cannot blow it. It's too late 
to turn back now, as Mr. Morrison sang. [Laughter] It is too late. And 
so we need the voices. I can look at people in this room that--I know 
I've been working on this now with many of you for a long time. We have 
got to help them let go. And you can do it.
    Thank you, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 7:25 p.m. at a private residence. In his 
remarks, he referred to dinner hosts Bob and Mia Matthews; event 
cochairs Jack Manning and Lyle Howland; Tim Russert, Washington bureau 
chief, NBC News; Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams; former President Nelson 
Mandela of South Africa; Gen. John de Chastelain, Canadian Defense 
Forces, member and chair, Independent International Commission on 
Decommissioning; Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom; Prime 
Minister Bertie Ahern of Ireland; and former Senator George J. Mitchell, 
who chaired the multiparty talks in Ireland. This item was not received 
in time for publication in the appropriate issue.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

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