Irish bid for seat in UN ‘no vanity project’, insists Taoiseach

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has strongly rejected claims that Ireland’s UN Security Council bid is a “vanity” project.

Speaking at UN headquarters in Manhattan, the Taoiseach dismissed criticisms that the €1.5m bid is coming at the expense of other priorities, such as Brexit and housing.

“The UN is an important place where important decisions are made,” he said.

This is where decisions are made about where peacekeepers should go,and where our peacekeepers might serve. It’s where decisions are made on sanctions and even on occasion where decisions are made on whether or not the world should go to war, so there is no vanity here, this is serious stuff.

Last night, he and Tánaiste Simon Coveney were joined by U2 frontman Bono and former president Mary Robinson at the formal launch of Ireland’s bid to secure a two-year stint on the Security Council from 2021.

“I consider this campaign to be a good investment,” said Mr Varadkar. “It is very much about Ireland seeing itself as a country at the centre of the world when it comes to foreign policy we need to prepare for Ireland post-Brexit. And that means being at the heart of Europe.”

The quartet addressed a gathering of more than 400 dignitaries at the UN lawn at the event to launch Ireland’s two-year campaign.

Mrs Robinson said the council is badly in need of reform, saying the use of the veto by some permanent members has been an abuse.

Ireland faces competition from Canada and Norway in what Irish diplomats have dubbed a “group of death”.

Mrs Robinson said: “I would say this is probably Ireland’s most difficult attempt to become a member of the Security Council again. Both Canada and Norway are serious competitors.

“I heard a lot of joking at the U2 concert last night that that was a very good soft power stroke to bring the ambassadors together because they rarely get together. They were laughing saying this will put it up to Canada and Norway. So everyone is aware it is a really tough fight.”

It is important for Ireland tries to get back on the Security Council given the increased dangers facing the world, said Mrs Robinson.

“Ireland has strong support among African countries for very good reason,” she said

In terms of reform, Mrs Robinson was critical of the use of the veto by countries such as Russia over events in Syria. She said the Security Council has failed the world through the use of the veto.

“I think that is a very strong point,” said Mrs Robinson. “The Security Council has been failing us period over Syria and over the vetoes that are unnecessarily been cast. The Elders, who I belong to, have argued strongly for reform of the Security Council. It needs to be reform. Ireland will be a strong voice for reform if elected to the council.”

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