Remarks by the President to the Victims and Families of Victims of Bombing

Office of the Press Secretary
(Armagh, Northern Ireland)

For Immediate Release September 3, 1998

Leisure Center
Omagh, Northern Ireland

4:05 P.M. (L)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Mr. Prime Minister,Mrs.Blair, Secretary Mowlam, Ambassador Lader, Senator Mitchell; to the peopleofOmagh. Hillary and I are honored to be in your presence. We come to tellyouthat along way away the American people have mourned the loss of 28innocentsand all those who were injured. For those victims and family members whohavecome here today to say a word to us, we thank you for your presence. To all of you, we thank you for standing up in the face ofsuch a soul-searing loss, and restating your determination to walk the road ofpeace.

We came here, knowing, as the Prime Minister said, thatwordsare not very good at a time like this, simply to express our sympathy withthegood people of this community, especially with the victims and theirfamilies,and again to support your determined refusal to let a cowardly crime robyouof the future you have chosen.

What happened here on August the 15th was so incrediblyunreasonable, so shocking to the conscience of every decent person in thisland, that it has perversely had exactly the reverse impact that the peoplewho perpetrated this act intended. By killing Catholics and Protestants,young and old, men, women and children, even those about to be born, peoplefrom Northern Ireland, the Irish Republic and abroad -- by doing allthat in the aftermath of what the people have voted for in NorthernIreland,it galvanized, strengthened and humanized the impulse to peace.

Even more than when we were here three years ago, peoplearesaying to me, it's high time that the few stop ruining the lives of themany;high time that those who hate stopbullying those who hope; high time to stop the lilt of laughterand language being drowned out by bombs and guns and sirens; hightime to stop yesterday's nightmares from killing tomorrowsdreams.

All I wanted to say today is that nothing any of uscan say will erase the pain that those of you who haveexperienced loss know now. Just a few days ago we had to --Hillary and I did -- go to the airport to meet the plane bringinghome the bodies of the Americans who were killed in the embassybombing in Africa, and to go from table to table to meet theirfamilies. There is no word to explaina mindless act of terror that grabs the life of an innocent. ButI think the only way to truly redeem such a terrible loss is tomake the memories of the innocents monuments to peace. We cannotbrook a decent into terror. Northern Ireland is walking awayfrom it. Life will never be the same here, but it will go on.

Since the bombing, one of the victims, Nicola Emory,has given birth to a healthy baby. I pray that baby will neverknow an act of terror and will live a long, full life in the 21stcentury, proud of a hometown that learned through tragedy themeaning of community.

I'd like to close my remarks by reading to you froma letter that our Ambassador in Dublin received from a young mannamed Michael Gallagher from County Mayo after this happened. Hewrote to the American Ambassador: "You don't know me. You maynot even get this letter. But after yesterday's tragedy I justwanted to do something. I am 29 years old, an Irishman to thevery core of my being. But throughout my life there has neverbeen peace on this island. I never realized how precious peacecould be until my wife, Martina, gave birth to our daughter,Ashleen, 20 months ago. We don't want her to grow up in asociety that is constantly waiting for the next atrocity, thenext bunch of young lives snuffed out in a sea of hatred andfear.

Ashleen's name means "vision" or "dream," and wehave a dream of what Ireland might be like when she grows up. Itcould be a place where dreams come true, where people wouldachieve things never imagined before, where people would not beafraid of their neighbors. Hopefully, this can happen. Butafter yesterday one has to wonder.

We know America has done much for Ireland, all weask is that you keep trying, even when times are hard. Pleasekeep Ireland in mind because Ashleen and all Irish children needto be able to dream."

So we came here today to say we grieve for yourloss, but to pledge to that little Ashleen in Mayo, and Nicola'snewborn here in Omagh that we will work to build this peace, tomake it a place where children can dream; to redeem the loss ofinnocents from the madness of people who must fail so that yourlife can go on. Thank you for letting us come here and God blessyou. (Applause.)

Speeches on September 3rd

Remarks Concerning the Victims and Families of Victims of Bombing

A Gathering For Peace

Clinton Addresses the Northern Ireland Assembly

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