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Wednesday 14 November 2018

Bono leads the Irish charge in fight for UN Security Council seat

BACKING: Bono will be in New York to support Ireland’s bid
BACKING: Bono will be in New York to support Ireland’s bid

Shona Murray

Bono will represent Ireland at the United Nations in a bid to win the country a seat on the UN Security Council.

Ireland will be competing against Canada and Norway for two seats as non-permanent members of the council.

It is hoped that Bono's gravitas as an advocate of development, the fight against HIV, and climate change, will boost Ireland's chances.

U2 will play a concert at New York's Madison Square Garden on July 1, and Bono will be on hand to support Ireland's bid the next day, when every UN member will be asked to vote. The presentation will be attended by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tanaiste Simon Coveney and senior Irish diplomats.

The role on the all-powerful UN Security Council will last for two years, and comes up every 20 years.

Each member state will chair the council as part of its rotating chairmanship for a one-month period.

Mr Varadkar and Mr Coveney have been busy canvassing members of the UN General Assembly for votes. It is understood that President Michael D Higgins has also pushed the case for Ireland while on state trips abroad.

Mr Coveney recently visited the Middle East where Ireland's opposition to the US embassy moving to Jerusalem is likely to shore up some votes among this bloc.

Ireland is also hoping to rely on votes from EU member states, though questions hang over whether the UK will give a vote to Dublin. Canada is a Commonwealth member, and Norway and Britain are aligned through their monarchs - King Harald V of Norway and Queen Elizabeth II of the UK are second cousins.

More pertinent is the fact that Anglo/Irish relations are at a low point due to Brexit confusion, so the position taken by Britain will be closely watched.

Ireland faces an uphill struggle as Canada and Norway are similarly well-disposed countries. None has a belligerent, colonial background to speak of, and all three focus heavily on development aid programming as part of foreign policy.

"When you look at the three countries - all open economies, not nuclear powers and progressively liberal - there are plenty of member states who think all three are pretty much the same," said a UN source.

Speaking off the record, observers noted that the competition is down to Ireland and Canada, as Norway's election is seen as a fait accompli.

The Scandanavian country "has a huge aid budget - probably the biggest in the world - and is a Nato member," said the source.

"Canada under Trudeau is very popular these days; it was different when [former Canadian prime minister] Stephen Harper was around; it was a grim leadership," another well-placed source told the Sunday Independent.

The Irish Government is also well regarded, but "both Leo and Justin have sort of the same charm", the source added.

Sunday Independent

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