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'Mammoth campaign' to win prestigious place on UN Security Council pays off

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar adressing media at a Government Covid-19 Press Briefing at Government Buildings. Pic Steve Humphreys

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar adressing media at a Government Covid-19 Press Briefing at Government Buildings. Pic Steve Humphreys

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar adressing media at a Government Covid-19 Press Briefing at Government Buildings. Pic Steve Humphreys

Ireland has been successful in its bid to take a seat at the United Nations Security Council, the top table of international diplomacy.

A "mammoth campaign" to win the prestigious role culminated last night with a vote involving more than 190 countries at UN headquarters in New York.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the result sees Ireland once again "taking our place among the nations of the world and sitting at the top table".

He said he believes the result was a vote for the values Ireland represents on the world stage - "multi-lateralism, freedom, human rights and the basic concept that countries of the world should work together to build a more peaceful, prosperous and stable world order".

As a result of the coronavirus crisis social distancing was practised during the voting process, which lasted more than four hours.

Delegates - including Ireland's UN ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason - wore face masks as they cast their secret ballot.

Ireland secured 128 votes and will join other countries such as the US, Russia and China on the Security Council for the years 2021 and 2022.

Canada and Norway were Ireland's rivals for a seat. Mr Varadkar described it as the "group of death", given the calibre of the opposition.

Norway also took a seat.

Mr Varadkar said Ireland will use the position "to advance the causes that we have championed - peace and security, conflict resolution and reconciliation, climate action, sustainable development and gender equality".

He thanked President Michael D Higgins for his work on the campaign as well as Ms Byrne Nason and Ireland's wider diplomatic service.

He also thanked U2 singer Bono - who has also been involved - as well as former President Mary Robinson.

The last public event promoting the bid was a performance of 'Riverdance' for diplomats in New York in March, just before the coronavirus lockdowns that have hit countries around the world.

Mr Varadkar also said: "It was nice to win at least one election this year."

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin - who is set to become Taoiseach if the coalition deal with Fine Gael and the Green Party is approved - congratulated everyone involved in the campaign.

"I am delighted that we have secured a seat on UN Security Council. Our Defence Forces have served UN's peace keeping efforts with distinction since 1958 and our country has played a leading role at the UN for almost 60 years," he said.

The quest for the Security Council seat was officially launched in 2018 with costs to the State in the region of €1m. The Government has officially put the cost at €840,000.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney previously described it as a "mammoth campaign".

Irish Independent