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East Room

March 14, 2019

6:12 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much, everybody.  Great honor.  Oh, that beautiful music.  I can’t talk over that music.  (Laughter.)  It’s too good.  It’s too good.  We’ll let them finish out.  (Applause.)  Very good.  And thank you very much.

It’s a great honor, and I’m delighted to be here tonight with so many of my Irish friends.  I have a lot of Irish folks in this room.  And we have a lot of people that wanted to be here very specifically for that reason.

We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and honor thriving Irish American partnerships that we have all over this country.

Some of you came all the way from the Emerald Isle to be with us this evening.  Many of you, actually.  Many of you.  Others came from a little known island called Manhattan.  And no matter where you began your journey, we’re grateful that you made it and you’re really welcome to be at the White House.  This is a very spectacular place.  I’ve lived in a lot of locations.  I have lived in a lot of places.  And, Melania, I think we have to say, this tops it, right?  (Laughter.)


PRESIDENT TRUMP:  This tops it.

On behalf of the First Lady, I’d like to thank Taoiseach.  Leo, you are really something.  We’ve gotten to know each other over the last couple of years.  (Applause.)   Very special guy.  And also, Dr. Matthew Barrett for joining us tonight.  Thank you, Matthew.  You here someplace?  Thank you very much.  Where’s — thank you, Matthew, very much.  (Applause.)  Appreciate it.

Also, I want to give a very special thank-you to a very proud American, but he’s also very proud to have a lot of Irish blood in him, and that’s our Vice President, Mike Pence.  (Applause.)  You have a lot in you.  How much?  You have a lot, right?  Almost the whole deal?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE:  Whole other (inaudible).

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Pretty — pretty close.  Along with his wonderful sister, who I just met, Annie.  Thank you, Annie, for being here, wherever you may be.  Thank you very much, Annie.

We also are grateful to be joined by Ireland’s Ambassador to the United States, Daniel Mulhall, and his wife Greta.   Thank you very much, Daniel.  (Applause.)   Thank you.

My thanks as well to three Irish American Supreme Court justices in attendance.  One of them has a little less of the Irish blood, but they’re all great.  (Laughter.)  Justice Gorsuch, Justice Kavanaugh, and Justice Kennedy.   And we appreciate very much, wherever you are.  (Applause.)  Great.  Really great.  Doing a fantastic job.

Several members of Congress are also here for the festivities, and all of the members of Congress, wherever you may be — there are too many of you to name.  I hate to do that to you.  You’re going to go home, you’re never going to vote for Trump again.  (Laughter.)  But that’s okay.  I may be better off.  Right?  (Laughter.)

We’re also pleased to have many members of my Cabinet with us, including Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who’s doing a fantastic job; Attorney General Bill Barr, Mrs. Barr.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Ambassador Robert Lighthizer.  He’s not busy enough.  He’s negotiating with China.  He’s negotiating with South Korea, Japan.  We just heard about Japan.  Japan is now negotiating.  They haven’t wanted to negotiate for many years, but now they’re negotiating.  It’s called “tariffs.”  Tariffs are a very, very great way of getting people to the table.  And Japan has been terrific — Prime Minister Abe.

Just have completed a deal with Mexico.  The USMCA with Mexico and with China — with Mexico and with Canada.  And the China deal is going along incredibly well.  We’ll see what happens, but we’re very deep.

And where is Bob Lighthizer?  Is he around, or is he still — I think he’s just a big negotiating machine.  (Laughter.)  I can’t imagine — I can’t imagine that he’s even here.  But, Bob, if you are here, you’re doing a great job.

We’ll have news on China — probably one way or the other, we’re going to know over the next three to four weeks.  And if that one gets done, it will be something that people are going to be talking about for a long time, and because we have been really taken advantage of for a long time.  And now, I think China, frankly, is — they’ve been very responsible and very reasonable.  Let’s see what happens.

This year, on March 17th, from Boston to Chicago, to the Emerald City of Seattle, and dozens of other cities and towns in between, millions of Americans will celebrate the legendary history and the rich heritage of the inspiring Irish people.  I know many Irish people and they are inspiring.  They’re sharp, they’re smart, they’re great, and they are brutal enemies, right?  (Laughter.)  So you have to keep them as your friend.  Always keep them as your friend.  You don’t want to fight with the Irish.  It’s too tough.  Too — it’s too bloody.  (Laughter.)

In my hometown of New York City, St. Patrick’s Day — for years and years, I’ve gone to St. Patrick’s Day; my father and mother would take me — is one of the most important holidays of the year and the greatest parade of the year.  During the parade this weekend, Fifth Avenue will become a beautiful sea of green, and marchers make their way past the famous and very beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  To me, one of the most beautiful places in the country.

At the White House, we celebrate this holiday with today’s event, the annual presentation of the Shamrock Bowl.  And I won’t tell you who’s getting it.  It’s a big surprise.  (Laughter.)  Okay?  It’s a very big surprise.  I want to keep all the television back there — we want to keep them in suspense.

This tradition began almost 70 years ago, when Ireland’s first Ambassador to the United States, John Joseph Hearne, gave President Harry Truman a small box of shamrocks in 1952.

Tonight, we accept this gift as a symbol of the enduring friendship with Ireland and its amazing people — people that we love.  The Irish are confident, fierce, faithful, tough, and true.  They never give up; they never give in.  Do you give in?  Does anybody here give in?  Huh?  I don’t think so.

Since the time of the Revolutionary War, the sons and daughters of Ireland have played a central role in the history of our country.  On Christmas night 1776, a Bostonian of Irish descent, General Henry Knox, directed General George Washington’s famous Crossing of the Delaware.  During the Civil War, more than 150,000 Irishmen valiantly fought to preserve our union.  And they fought hard.

This very building — our nation’s beloved White House — was designed by Irish architect, James Hoban.  In 1974 — in 1794, when Catholic Irish workers in Washington, D.C. needed a place to pray, they founded a church — now the oldest parish in Washington, D.C. — and it’s called St. Patrick’s.

Every year on St. Patrick’s Day, we honor Ireland’s patron saint and his life of selfless service to others.  Today, we also honor the many Irish American firefighters, soldiers, police officers, doctors, nurses, teachers, priests, and countless others who carry on St. Patrick’s blessed legacy of service.

Tonight, we are thrilled to have so many members of the Irish community with us at the White House for this celebration.
So many people wanted to be here and they couldn’t because we wanted to make room for you.  So we just said, “Don’t come.”  (Laughter.)

Through trial and triumph, ups and downs, thick and thin, the extraordinary Irish people have stood by America’s side, and America will always stand by theirs.  (Applause.)

And I have to say — and I have to say that we have literally never had a better relationship with Ireland than we do right now based on the relationship that we have.  But we’re doing trade.  We’re doing many, many things with Ireland.  And it’s been a — it’s been a wonderful friendship.  Never been stronger than it is today.

We thank the Taoiseach for his honored gift of good luck and goodwill.  And we wish all Americans and our great friends in Ireland, many of whom are watching right now, a very, very Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

I’d like to invite the Taoiseach to begin the presentation of this year’s Shamrock Bowl.  And I just want to say it’s an honor to be with you, and enjoy yourself, enjoy your evening.  And let’s present the trophy to President Trump.  (Laughter and applause.)

PRIME MINISTER VARADKAR:  So, Mr. President, First Lady, Mr. Vice President.  (Speaks Irish Gaelic.)

As some of you will know, I am a big fan of history and I really love history, because I believe that history is the study of the future.  It reminds us where we’ve come from and points us to the place we need to go next.

And throughout history, holders of your office, Mr. President, have defined the destiny of this great country in times of certainty and in times of crisis.  People like President Washington, who helped to create America and show the world what freedom meant and how democracy worked.  People like President Jefferson, who helped to make America great and created a republic of liberty.  President Lincoln, who preserved democracy and proved that freedom has no limits.  And Presidents Roosevelt and Reagan, who defeated two evil empires and secured freedom for the world.

I know, Mr. President, you’ve said your ambition is to make America great again, and I think we can already see some of the results of that.  The American economy — (applause) — the American economy is booming.  There are more jobs, rising incomes, lower taxes.  Exactly what you said you would do.  And American military power is unrivaled.  Nobody doubts your status as a great power in the world.

But I think what makes America really great is not just economic prowess or military might, it’s all those things that make all of us around the world really love and respect America.

Above all, your people — and so many of you here tonight — your values, and your nation conceived of liberty, the land and home of the brave and free.

Those inspiring words that inspired the world: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

A nation dedicated to the proposition of government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”  A country that puts a man on the moon not because it was easy, but precisely because it was hard.

And, Mr. President, the promise of America inspired so many people seeking liberty and freedom around the world, including so many people in my own country.  We were inspired by some famous American women, like Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Rachel Carson, Marsha Johnson, who changed forever the way we view the world and the world around us.  And inspired by the Civil Rights Movement here in America.  People in Northern Ireland, for example, demanded equal rights and equal opportunities too.  And they sang the same songs, “We Shall Overcome.”  And indeed, they did.

And we know that as you work to make America great again, that won’t mean forgetting or losing sight of all of those things that have made America great already.

People around the world have been inspired by America and have traveled to come here and to make it their home.  And people came, including millions from Ireland who were among the hands that helped to build America.  Some made the opposite journey and still do.  And when Americans come to Ireland, we greet them as brothers and sisters.

Mr. President, I believe that our history is shared and our future is intertwined.  So I believe that future generations of our citizens should have the same opportunity to enrich each other’s societies as past generations did.  No nation at the moment, with as many ties as Ireland has to the United States, has so few pathways to legal immigration.  And I know we’ve talked about this on a few occasions.  And when we’ve talked about it, we found agreements.

And I want to thank you and also Congress for your support for the new E-3 visa program, which will allow a limited number of Irish people to come here annually.  (Applause.)

Mr. President, a hundred years since independence, Ireland has taken her place among the nations of the world.  We’re a proud member of the United Nations, acting as a force for good around the world.  We’re securing our place in the European Union — the common European home which we helped to build.  And we’re a gateway to the Atlantic and, I hope, a bridge between Europe and America.

And at this point in our history, we’re very keen to deepen the economic ties between our two countries.  Decades of investment by U.S. firms in Ireland have helped to transform Ireland from one of the least developed countries in Europe to what is now one of the most prosperous.  And we thank America and we thank you for that.  I will never forget the role of America in making our economic transformation possible.

Today, however, our economic relationship is very much a two-way street.  Almost 100,000 Americans in 50 states are now employed in Irish-owned companies, and there are more jobs to come.  A hundred and nineteen Irish firms have invested here since you took office, and investment by Irish companies in the U.S. has trebled in recent years.

We have a trade surplus in goods and merchandise, but that’s balanced by a trade surplus in services.  So, jobs and trade and investment are going in both directions.  And free trade and free enterprise are making everyone better off in the round, and I’d like to keep it that way.

President Lincoln once said, “The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future.”  All these are links in the endless chain stretching from the finites to the infinites.

And, Mr. President, I believe that Ireland is part of that endless chain.  We’re really proud of our links to this great country.  We want them to continue, and we want to strengthen and deepen them in the years ahead.

And so, Mr. President, in the spirit of our long-shared friendship, it gives me very great pleasure to present you with the 2019 Shamrock Bowl.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  (Applause.)

(The Shamrock Bowl is presented.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)


6:30 P.M. EDT