Varadkar says Ireland getting ‘strong hearing’ over UN Security Council seat

Taoiseach’s summit address emphasises country’s commitment to peace and peacekeeping

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar addresses the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit during the United Nations General Assembly, at UN headquarters, New York, on Monday. Photograph: Richard Drew/AP

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar addresses the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit during the United Nations General Assembly, at UN headquarters, New York, on Monday. Photograph: Richard Drew/AP

 

The Taoiseach expressed confidence about Ireland’s effort to win a seat on the UN Security Council for the 2021-2022 period following meetings with several international leaders at the United Nations in New York on Monday.

Leo Varadkar met the president of Columbia, the prime minister of New Zealand and leaders of South Africa and Malawi among others on the fringes of the UN General Assembly in a effort to secure support for Ireland’s candidacy.

“We’re getting a very strong hearing from countries around the world,” he told reporters.

“I think they understand that Ireland is a country that is committed to the UN, committed to its ideals and values… They’re also very aware that we’re an EU country, an EU country that is still going to be around the table after the UK leaves and therefore can be helpful to countries in Africa, Latin America and so on.”

However, he warned that securing the seat will be a challenge.

“As is always the case in an election, you probably get more commitments than you actually get votes. We’ll be working very hard over the next few years to turn those commitments into votes.”

Justin Trudeau

Mr Varadkar briefly met Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, who was also in New York to drum-up support as Ireland faces competition from Canada and Norway for the two rotating security council seats in 2021 and 2022.

The Taoiseach also addressed more than 70 heads of state at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit at the United Nations.

Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Geraldine Byrne-Nason, and her team co-facilitated the declaration that was signed at the summit and Irish officials were heavily involved with preparations for the event.

In his speech to the chamber, Mr Varadkar highlighted Ireland’s commitment to peace and peacekeeping, noting that this year marked the 20th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement.

He said that the legacy of Nelson Mandela was a “living legacy, entrusted to us so we can be the torch-bearers for peace and reconciliation, for this and future generations”.

Mandela’s speech

He recalled Mr Mandela’s speech to the Dáil shortly after his release from prison 28 years ago.

“There he inspired us with his words as he attacked the arrogance of racism and honoured those who dared to cry freedom,” Mr Varadkar said.

He said it was important to continue to provide a voice for the oppressed around the world, in particular calling for greater focus on the issue of gender discrimination.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney is due in New York later this week when he is expected to hold more bilateral meetings with world leaders and foreign ministers. He will deliver Ireland’s address to the UN General Assembly on Friday.