Daniel McConnell in New York
Ireland's bid to gain a seat on the United Nations Security Council will get off to a rocking start tonight as over 190 ambassadors will be guests of Ireland at U2's sold-out show at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The band, at the request of the Government, have made available the tickets for the show which is part of the campaign to show off the best of Ireland.
The invitation was to coincide with the Government's official launch of its bid to win a seat on the UN's Security Council, which is being spearheaded by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney.
The Taoiseach and Tánaiste are travelling to New York today ahead of an intensive 72-hour programme of events to launch the bid.
Tomorrow evening, the Taoiseach and Tánaiste will officially launch Ireland’s campaign at UN headquarters with a special event celebrating Irish food, music, heritage and culture.
Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson and U2’s Bono, who are two of the most recognisable Irish people in UN circles will be present to support the bid.
Over 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.
Two rotating seats on the council are up for grabs in 2021 and the Irish Government has its eye on one of them.
In the past, Ireland won two-year rotating terms on the Security Council in the past in 1962, 1981 and 2001.
As a sign of how cherished a UN Security Council seat is, Ireland’s candidacy was declared in 2005. The launch of the formal bid was included in the Programme for Government.
Ireland is competing against Norway and Canada for the two spots. There was some surprise at Canada's late entry into the race.
The vote will not take place until 2020 but a two-year campaign to lobby the other members begins tomorrow.
Under the UN rules, a two-thirds majority of 193 Member States (or 129 votes) is required for election to the UN Security Council. Each Member State – however big or small – has a vote.
Ireland is competing with Norway and Canada for one of the two seats available to the Western Europe and Others Group (WEOG).
Ireland, as the smallest country, is likely to spend the least on its campaign, which is estimated to cost about €1.5m, but government sources are encouraged by our international standing as peace brokers.
The three main themes of Ireland's bid are empathy, Partnership and Independence. We have sought election to the Security Council at roughly 20-year intervals and have been elected to the Council on three previous occasions for the terms: 1961 (half-term), 1981-82 and 2001-2002.
The campaign will involve intensive engagement with all other UN members in New York and in their capitals, “to convince them of Ireland’s value as a candidate and what we bring to the UN”.
These efforts will be led in the first instance by Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Geraldine Byrne Nason.
The Taoiseach 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.
"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.”
The Taoiseach will conclude his visit on Tuesday morning by meeting a group of business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs supported by IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland at the New York Stock Exchange.