Monday 16 July 2018

U2 add showbiz sparkle to Irish bid for UN council seat

Norway and Canada provide stiff competition in campaign lasting two years

U2 raised the curtain on the Irish bid to secure one of two seats on the UN Security Council. Photo: Steve Humphreys
U2 raised the curtain on the Irish bid to secure one of two seats on the UN Security Council. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Shona Murray

U2 officially raised the curtain on Ireland's bid to secure one of two non-permanent seats at the United Nation's Security Council, the organisation's most powerful body.

U2 officially raised the curtain on Ireland's bid to secure one of two non-permanent seats at the United Nation's Security Council, the organisation's most powerful body.

At a sold-out concert at New York's Madison Square Garden last night, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Simon Coveney and senior Irish officials including Ireland's ambassador to the UN, Geraldine Byrne Nason, joined every ambassador to the UN to hear why they should vote for Ireland for a seat for a two-year term starting in 2021.

Ireland faces stiff competition from Norway and Canada for one of two seats which come up around every 20 years. Ireland has held the seat previously in 2001, 1981 and 1962.

The Government said the role would shore up its 'global Ireland' ambition, particularly in light of the threat of Brexit, where Ireland needs to find new allies.

"Ireland's campaign for a seat on the UN Security Council is central to our international agenda. Winning a seat on the UN Security Council would place Ireland at the heart of UN decision-making on international peace, security and development," said Mr Varadkar.

The launch of the campaign - which will go on for the next two years, after which the General Assembly will finally vote on the seats - will continue with a more formal application that will be made at UN headquarters today.

The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will be joined by Bono and former President Mary Robinson to advocate on behalf of Ireland.

Both serving and veteran Irish UN peacekeepers will also be in attendance, highlighting six decades of Irish involvement in UN peacekeeping and the country's commitment to global peace and security - the main responsibility of the Security Council. The event will give the guests a "taste of Ireland" and showcase Irish culture, music, food and heritage. After that, the campaign will involve intensive engagement with all member states at UN HQ in New York and in their capitals, to convince them of Ireland's value as a candidate.

The Government must win two-thirds of the support from voting member states at the General Assembly - at least 129 votes, from 193 states casting a ballot.

There are 10 non-permanent members alongside the five permanent members of the Security Council. Countries emerge through blocs for seats to ensure a balanced weighting of African, Asian, Latin American and Western representation.

Canada has spent millions of dollars on campaigns to secure a seat in the past.

Mr Varadkar last night was unable to say how much the two-year campaign would cost, but insisted there would be no additional cost for the Irish taxpayer.

"We actually don't have a cost as yet because it's a campaign that's going to run for two years.

"The vast majority of the work that is done by politicians and diplomats will be in the course of the work they were doing anyway. When we're attending EU meetings, attending bi-lateral meetings with other ministers, when we're taking part in St Patrick's Day events, so everything we do from now on over the next two years when it comes to foreign policy engagements this will be on the foreign policy agenda."

Irish Independent

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