U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C.

12:12 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Paul, and Vice President Pence, distinguished members of Congress, so many wonderful people from Ireland.  So many friends, and we appreciate it — for joining us on this very special occasion.  It really is.  First time was last year, and I still remember — I said, “That was a lot of fun.”  We’ll do it — I guess, what do we have?  Six more left after this.  (Laughter and applause.)

Well, we’re honored to welcome Taoiseach.  We have a long experience.  You’ll explain it later, but we actually knew each other from a different life.  And it was very successful.

I also want to warmly welcome Ambassador Mulhall, who has done an excellent job of representing a lot of good people.  Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador.  (Applause.)  Your wife, Greta.  Thank you, Greta, very much.  And all of the really incredible Irish delegation who — many of whom I know very well.

St. Patrick’s Day is a time for us to honor and build upon the lasting bonds of our friendship between the United States and Ireland, bonds forged through a very common heritage, shared values, and a united vision for a peaceful and prosperous future.

More than 30 million Americans today claim Irish heritage.  That’s why you have such power in the halls of Congress and everywhere else.  Thirty million people.

Among the many wonderful Americans who trace their routes back to Ireland are elected leaders like Paul, like Kevin, like Mike.  I just have to look at almost this whole room.  (Laughter.)  But we have just a tremendous group of unbelievable leaders.  And a friend of mine, Cardinal Dolan, is a very, very proud person of Ireland.

It was our first Catholic President, John Kennedy, himself of Irish descent, who set our nation’s sights on the moon.  We’re looking at Mars, by the way, in case anybody hasn’t seen.  (Laughter.)  I’m trying to top him.  We’re going to get there.  It’s going to — moving along pretty good.  A lot of things have happened, Mike, having to do with that subject, way ahead of schedule.

And astronaut Michael Collins, who all know, and — of Irish descent.  And he piloted the Apollo 11 mission that planted the American footprint and the American flag where no man had ever gone before.

This impressive legacy of accomplishment is woven into our national character.  The toughness, the grit, and the Fighting Irish resolve are fundamental American ways of life.

So on this St. Patrick’s Day, we celebrate our long friendship and close ties with the people of Ireland.  Special, incredible, wonderful people.  And we look forward to an exciting future that we will all share together.

And it’s an honor to have you with us.  And I look forward to seeing you often.  Whenever there’s a problem, you call.  We’ll solve it.  Okay?  Except for trade.  (Laughter.)  They got those taxes so low.  (Laughter.)  You’re a tough one to compete with, with the taxes.  But congratulations.  Great job.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END

12:14 P.M. EDT