Ireland among ‘most respected’ nations, Eamon Gilmore claims

Former tánaiste says world admires Irish values, peace process and overseas aid

Speaking at the Parnell Summer School, Eamon  Gilmore said Ireland needed to pursue the goals in its foreign policy documents supporting multilateral institutions like the EU and UN. Photograph: Frank Miller

Speaking at the Parnell Summer School, Eamon Gilmore said Ireland needed to pursue the goals in its foreign policy documents supporting multilateral institutions like the EU and UN. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

Ireland is one of the “most respected countries in the world” with an influence disproportionate to its size, the EU special representative for human rights Eamon Gilmore has said.

The former tánaiste and minister for foreign affairs said Ireland was respected because of its record on human rights, peace, nuclear disarmament, international development, overseas aid and the Northern Ireland peace process.

Speaking at the opening of the Parnell Summer School in Avondale, Co Wicklow, Mr Gilmore maintained Ireland needed more than ever to pursue the goals set out in its foreign policy documents supporting multilateral institutions such as the EU and the UN.

He believed the biggest challenges in the world were climate change, globalisation and migration – challenges that could not be faced by any country on their own.

However, he said the withdrawal of the US from the UN human rights council, from Unesco, from the Paris climate change agreement and from the Iran nuclear agreement sent signals to other countries that might encourage them to abandon multilateralism is favour of their “own country’s perceived self-interest”.

Mr Gilmore said the imminent departure of the UK from the EU removed a prominent voice for democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the union.

UK departure

“The departure of the UK removes a strong advocate for those values, shifts the pendulum and leaves a big gap which will need to be filled by other member states and especially by the Irish,” he said. “This will be particularly necessary in the making and conduct of the EU’s common foreign and security policy [CFSP] from which the UK’s influence will be absent.

“All of this means that Ireland must be ever-more vigilant and intensively engaged at the EU Council table. This is not so much a new burden as an opportunity to shape European policy and to use even more effectively the CFSP to amplify Ireland’s own foreign policy which is very compatible with the values and multilateral character of the EU approach.”

He also said that Ireland should pursue membership of the UN Security Council with “added urgency” as it would enhance the country’s authority and potential in shaping EU foreign policy in the years ahead.

“Ireland has served on the security council on three previous occasions. This time it is more important than ever, because of the necessity to strengthen the UN system,” he said.

Security council

“Ireland is uniquely placed to contribute leadership among the 10 elected members of the security council, while also working closely with the permanent members, with each of whom Ireland enjoys good diplomatic relations, despite some policy differences.”

Mr Gilmore also suggested that commemorations to mark the War of Independence should also reflect that Ireland’s independence was pursued by peaceful means as well as by armed conflict.

He said he hoped future commemorations give due to those who participated in Dáil Éireann and those who ran the courts and local government.

“There was indeed a war in which many suffered, during which shocking atrocities were committed, but not all of the independence struggle was violent.”

The theme of this year’s Parnell Summer School is Beyond Borders: Ireland and the Wider World. The summer school runs until August 15th.