Wednesday 12 December 2018

President Higgins holds talks with UN secretary general

Visit to New York by President Higgins and his wife Sabina Photo: Maxwell's
Visit to New York by President Higgins and his wife Sabina Photo: Maxwell's

Cormac McQuinn in New York

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has met with United Nations secretary general António Guterres for talks on conflict prevention and Ireland's contribution to peackeeping.

Mr Higgins congratulated the former Portuguese prime minister on his his report on "Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace", which led to this week's high level meetings at UN headquarters.

The President also took the opportunity to highlight the work of Irish UN peacekeepers around the world over six decades.

He noted how in any given year Ireland has some 1,000 peacekeepers deployed on missions, including places like Lebanon and the Golan Heights.

A statement from Mr Higgins' said he "paid tribute to the Defence Forces for their role in the field, and for their invaluable work informing Irish society, upon their return, of the work of the United Nations."

The pair discussed Mr Guterres' peacebuilding report which focuses on conflict prevention rather than responding to its consequences. 

Mr Higgins praised the references to how conflict impacts on women and their crucial role in reconstruction, reconciliation and mediation efforts.

He also said that the report "justifiably highlights" that a renewed focus on prevention is not merely a moral issue but can also lead to significant savings compared to the cost of peacekeeping and humanitarian response.

Mr Higgins made similar remarks in his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

The President also held further meetings with other world leaders and diplomats as part of Ireland’s efforts to win a seat on the UN Security Council for the 2021-2022 term.

He will this evening attend a gala concert at New York’s Symphony Space to celebrate the Irish Arts Centre in the city.

There are plans for a new $60m (€49.2m) building for the Centre.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced new government funding for the project during his St Patrick’s Day visit to the US earlier this year.

Among those expected to be in attendance are Hollywood actor Liam Neeson.

Traditional Irish musicians Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill along with singers Camille O’Sullivan and Declan O’Rourke are due to perform.

Online Editors

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