1986 bid for Nobel prize for Geldof

The Government made a major effort to receive international backing for its nomination of Bob Geldof to win the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize.

State papers reveal Irish diplomats sounded out a host of countries with a view to obtaining support for the Boomtown Rats singer, who had become a global figure after organising the previous year’s Live Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia to raise funds for victims of the famine in Ethiopia.

However, Geldof, then aged 34, seemed largely indifferent to receiving an Irish nomination.

Government officials seeking information about his career were advised by Geldof to contact Hot Press or Irish Times music journalist Joe Breen whom, he claimed, knew more about such details than he did himself.

In nominating Geldof as a citizen of Ireland, then taoiseach Garret FitzGerald suggested there had seldom been a candidate of such youth who was so deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize.

“His personal magnetism, powers of persuasion, and the high esteem in which he is held by his fellow musicians have helped to make the Third World and its problems appear more real and important in the developed world,” said Mr FitzGerald.

Live Aid was watched by more than 1bn television viewers and raised £75m.

Records reveal Spain indicated its support but the Irish ambassador to Russia had less positive news: “There is room for doubt that as to whether the Live Aid concert and its method of fundraising would fit into Soviet concepts of development aid or of acceptable music.”

In the end, the Government was too late in submitting its nomination.

The 1986 Nobel Peace Prize was won by Elie Wiesel — an American Jewish writer, Holocaust survivor, and peace activist.


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