13 December 2000
Clinton Knows His Music
President Bill Clinton quoted U2 as he began his visit to Ireland yesterday.
'In the words of U2, It's A Beautiful Day,' said the US President, addressing a 60,000 strong crowd in Dundalk. 'Redouble your efforts for peace.'
The President is in Ireland to speak with political leaders from all sides. In a rapturously received speech, President Clinton pleaded for all the people of Ireland to make political stability a lasting reality.
'In the end you cannot win by making your neighbour lose,' he said. 'Two years ago after the horror bombing of Omagh, you good people filled these streets.
'Young people came not wanting to lose their dreams. Older people came because they wanted the chance to live in peace before they rested in peace.
'You stared violence in the face and said, 'No more.'
'You stood up for peace then and I ask you to stand up for peace today, tomorrow and the rest of your lives.'
Mr Clinton is on a three-day visit to Dublin, Dundalk and Belfast, hoping to reignite the peace process. Travelling with Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, the President first visited the Irish President Mary McAleese yesterday afternoon before moving on to meet 2,000 business people and political representatives at the Guinness Storehouse in the heart of Dublin's Liberties.
The party then headed to Dundalk, Co Louth where Clinton gave his keynote speech on the Market Square in Dundalk - home of The Corrs, which the President noted.
"It's great to be in the hometown of The Corrs, we had the pleasure of being with them and seeing them perform in Washington on Sunday" , he said, referring to the TNT annual TV show 'Christmas in Washington'.
The evening ended with Belfast singer Brian Kennedy's rendition of Danny Boy - reportedly Clintons favourite song - and Irish traditional group Altan performed with Donal Lunny as the President mingled with the crowds.
The Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, has said that regardless of who follows Clinton into the White House, the last eight years will quickly come to be seen as a golden age for Irish politics in Washington.
'We were up there among the few key areas of the world that got full attention from the State Department and from his own personal staff,' he said.
President Clinton, himself no mean musician, has met U2 on several occassions during his Presidency - most recently working with Bono on securing debt relief funding from the US Congress for the worlds poorest countries.