Statement on St. Patrick's Day

March 17, 1981

St. Patrick's Day is not only the feast day of a great man of God, it is a symbol of the commitment of the Irish people to freedom, to justice, and to the values upon which Western civilization is built.

We in the United States know the great contribution made by citizens of Irish ancestry. From our Revolution to the present day, Irish Americans have been at the forefront of the defense of freedom. By their labor and by their sacrifices, they have been a major force in building our nation.

It is therefore gratifying on this St. Patrick's Day to be able to pay tribute to the great role Ireland and the Irish have played in defending and renewing the values we cherish.

But we are also conscious of the violence, bloodshed, and despair which now haunt all of the people of Northern Ireland. This tragedy cannot go unnoticed by the United States, which owes so much and has such close ties to the Irish.

As an American proud of his Irish ancestry and as President, I recognize the vital importance to our nation and the Western alliance of a peaceful, just, and swift solution to current problems in Northern Ireland.

The United States will continue to urge the parties to come together for a just and peaceful solution. I pray and hope that the day will come when the tragedy of history which now afflicts Northern Ireland will be overcome by faith, the courage and the love of freedom and justice of the Irish.

We will continue to condemn all acts of terrorism and violence, for these connot solve Northern Ireland's problems. I call on all Americans to question closely any appeal for financial or other aid from groups involved in this conflict to ensure that contributions do not end up in the hands of those who perpetuate violence, either directly or indirectly.

I add my personal prayers and the good offices of the United States to those Irish -- and indeed to all world citizens -- who wish fervently for peace and victory over those who sow fear and terror.