Irish leader visits New York to launch bid for UN security council seat

PA

Leo Varadkar has travelled to the United States to launch Ireland's election campaign for a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

The Taoiseach is in New York with Irish Foreign Affairs minister Simon Coveney for the bid, which if successful, he says will place Ireland at the heart of UN decision-making on international peace, security and development.

U2 front man Bono and former Irish president Mary Robinson are also backing the bid.

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On Sunday night, UN ambassadors were invited to a U2 concert at Madison Square Garden as part of the Irish push to win the seat.

On Monday morning, Mr Varadkar will participate in a ceremony to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Ireland's participation on UN peacekeeping operations, and pay tribute to the 88 members of the Defence Forces who lost their lives while on UN service.

Later Mr Varadkar and Mr Coveney will officially launch Ireland's campaign at UN headquarters with a special event celebrating Irish food, music, heritage and culture.

More than 400 UN diplomats and other guests have been invited to attend the reception on the UN's North Lawn, beside the "Arrival" sculpture, by Irish artist John Behan, which was gifted to the UN by Ireland in 2000.

Ireland will be competing for one of two seats available for the 2021-22 term with Canada and Norway.

The Taoiseach said he does not underestimate the competition for the seat, but believes Ireland can win it.

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"Ireland's campaign for a seat on the UN Security Council is central to our international agenda, and is driven by our belief that we are far stronger acting together than we are acting alone," he said.

"Winning a seat on the UN Security Council would place Ireland at the heart of UN decision-making on international peace, security and development. It would also continue Ireland's proud tradition of international engagement dating back to our admission to the UN in 1955.

"We will have a tough campaign on our hands over the next two years and we certainly don't underestimate our competition, but I am confident that by putting our full support behind the campaign and by emphasising Ireland's unique strengths and track record, we can succeed."

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Mr Coveney added: "We are looking to serve on the UN Security Council over 2021-22 because we believe in a strong UN and we want to be at the centre of it, advocating for our core values. We have unique perspectives to bring based on our experiences in areas like peacekeeping, conflict resolution and international development."

Mr Varadkar's visit to New York will conclude on Tuesday with a meeting of business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs supported by IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland at the New York Stock Exchange.

Ireland first became a member of the UN in 1955, and previously won two-year rotating terms on the Security Council in 1962, 1981 and 2001.