Mr. President, it is fitting that my first words of welcome to you should be in our native language, the language of your forefathers.
Ócáid mhór, agus ócáid stairiúil, Uachtarán Stáit Aontaithe Mheiriceá a bheith ar cuairt ar ár dtír. Is mórchúis áthais agus bróid dúinne, i dTithe an Oireachtais, do thuras orainn inniu, a Uachtaráin Uasail, le labhairt linn. Cuirimid céad míle fáilte ó chroí romhat agus guímid séan agus sonas ort féin, ar do bhean chéile, Nancy agus ar mhuintir Mheiriceá.
It is a great honour to welcome the President of the United States to this Joint Session of both Houses of the Oireachtas. We welcome you, Mr. President, as Leader of a nation and of a people with whom Ireland enjoys a relationship unique for its deep and abiding friendship. We welcome you as President of the most powerful democracy on earth, a country committed since its foundation to the fundamental concepts of representative Government and the rights of the individual under law.
The links between the United States and Ireland are warm and enduring. They were forged by history and by a shared commitment to common goals. They reflect ties of kinship and fellowship built over many centuries. These ties have acted as a compelling force in the life and development of each nation.
Millions of Irish people have travelled across the Atlantic down through the centuries in search of a home. Like your ancestors, Mr. President, they left this country armed only with hope and fortitude but inspired by a vision of a new life with all its challenges in a new world. We are grateful for the opportunities offered them — opportunities to build a home, rear a family, earn a living and most of all to breathe the air of freedom.
We are proud that so many of them and their descendants responded to these opportunities, achieved success in private industry and public life and reached the pinnacle in so many areas, particularly in the political arena, as is evidenced by your presence with us today. For the Irish, it could with truth be said that America did, as the inscription for the Statue of Liberty proclaims, "Lift her lamp beside the golden door".
Our two nations today enjoy many political, cultural and economic links but an occasion such as this serves to remind us that the true source and strength of our special friendship lies in shared roots and in ideals mutually cherished and mutually enriching.
The relationship, Mr. President, is in one sense unique. The relations between the United States and many countries in the world are based on factors of mutual interest, be they strategic or commercial. Our relationship is not fundamentally based on any of these considerations; it is based primarily and almost exclusively on people. This is the firmest and most enduring basis of all. Your visit, Mr. President, will reinforce and reinvigorate this powerful bond that unites us.
Mr. President, it is my privilege and my great honour to call on you now to address this Joint Session of the Houses of Parliament. It is worth noting that this is only the second such Joint Session since the foundation of the State.