Garret FitzGerald nominated Bob Geldof for Nobel Peace Prize

State Papers 1986: Irish diplomats were asked to lobby officials in support of singer

Bob Geldof was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize after he helped to raise millions of pounds for Ethiopia through the single Do They Know It’s Christmas? and his Live Aid concerts

Bob Geldof was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize after he helped to raise millions of pounds for Ethiopia through the single Do They Know It’s Christmas? and his Live Aid concerts

 

Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald nominated Bob Geldof for the Nobel Peace Prize, documents from the 1986 State Papers show.

Behind the scenes, Irish diplomats were asked to lobby governments to support the nomination with mixed results, according to documents contained on a file from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Dr FitzGerald nominated the singer after Geldof helped raise millions of pounds for Ethiopia through the single Do they Know It’s Christmas? and his international Live Aid concerts in 1985.

In a three-page letter to the peace prize committee, dated December 31st, 1985, Dr FitzGerald said Geldof’s “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”.

He said there was all-party support for the nomination.

Also on the file, a note from the Irish Embassy in Tokyo said Mr Y Hayashiyama, of the secretariat of the house of representatives in Japan, had written to say he regretted they did not support nominations from other countries.

The Embassy in Delhi also reported a lack of support. And Bonn was not on board.

On February 2nd, in a note to the Department of Foreign Affairs the Embassy there said 100 deputies from the Bundestag were already supporting the candidacy of “Jewish academic and survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, Professor Elie Wiesel”, who also had American support.

A telex from the Embassy in Brussels said the University of Ghent was awarding Geldof an honorary degree in moral science and the rector of the university had agreed to send a copy of the citation to the Nobel prize committee.

But Switzerland seemed oblivious to Geldof’s Irish origins.

A telex from the Embassy in Berne to the department, dated October 14th, 1986, said weekly publication Schweizer Illustrierte carried an interview with Geldof about being nominated for the peace prize.

Irish connection

“Article says since knighthood, correct form of address is ‘Sir Bob’; refers to Boomtown Rats as small English rock band and makes no reference at all to the Irish connection,” the telex said.

The Italians did not seem impressed. A telex from the Ambassador in Rome, in January, said he had “discreetly inquired” whether the Italian government might support Geldof.

“Received the astonishing reply that my informant had never heard of him,” the Ambassador said.

A message from The Hague said there was support from the Netherlands government and one judge of the international court of justice had offered to lobby among his colleagues.

“Subsequently, I was told by a Norwegian colleague that expressions of support – even by qualified persons – could possibly be counterproductive,” the message, dated February 3rd, said.

“He described the Norwegian Nobel committee as a collection of elderly conservative men (some of whom he knows) who could possibly resent what they might see as organised attempts to sway their judgment.”

In all, 81 candidates were nominated for the peace prize in 1986 and the award, announced mid-October, went to Elie Wiesel.