Ireland’s place on the UN Security Council

 

Sir, – It is very good news that Ireland has procured a seat on the United Nations Security Council, a solid indication of the high level of respect we hold among the nations of the world and a welcome boost for national “self esteem” at this very challenging time in our nationhood (Suzanne Lynch and Harry McGee, Front page, June 18th).

Our Department of Foreign Affairs and its distinguished diplomatic corps must be thanked as the prime movers in carving out this seat at a top table in global affairs and they can now be relied on to conduct the business of the two-year term with tenacity and integrity.

Lest it be forgotten, as it well may be on the basis of how this outgoing government has treated them, the “foot soldiers” literally, in this significant national accomplishment are the women and men of our Defence Forces, over 80 of whom have died on UN service and who since June 1958 have grafted at the coal face of peacekeeping in the most deprived and exploited parts of the world to protect and serve our fellow human beings. Among the latter are generations of mothers, their children and families in South Lebanon.

In thus “flying the flag” for Ireland, soldiers routinely live, for months on end, in severe conditions of “lockdown” akin to what all of us have just been experiencing, with families at home always anxious about their safe return, children counting down the days and sometimes new arrivals yet to be greeted.

Yes, this is the job soldiers sign up for, but on the occasion of this country soon to take a seat on the UN Security Council it is fitting to be aware of and to appreciate how the members of the Defence Forces contribute to our honourable standing in the international community. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL GANNON,

(Colonel retired),

Kilkenny.

Sir, – Our Irish diplomats are to be congratulated on the success of Ireland’s campaign for membership of the UN Security Council. It would have been a travesty if two more Nato countries had been elected in addition to the three Nato countries, US, UK and France who are permanent members of the Security Council.

The primary role of the UN is to maintain international peace, yet those three permanent members have abused their powers of veto to usurp the role of the UN and wage wars of aggression with impunity since the end of the Cold War. These wars have caused the deaths of millions of people, including an estimated one million children, in Iraq, Serbia, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, and the US, UK and France are supporting conflicts in Yemen, Palestine and elsewhere.

Successive Irish governments have been silent in failing to criticise these wars of aggression and have allowed the US to misuse Shannon airport to wage these wars. The recently published programme for government makes reference to “active military neutrality” (Irish Times Editorial, June 17th). Active neutrality should not mean actively supporting wars.

On May 29th, 2020 in Ireland’s opening statement to the WFUNA, Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason said “We are an independent neutral country beholden to no one”. Our independence and our neutrality have been recklessly compromised. We have become beholden to the successive US government administrations in a manner that threatens our historical friendly and kinship relationships with the people of the United States.

Ireland’s two-year membership of the UN Security Council should be used to restore Ireland’s credibility as an independent neutral state and towards restoring the UN to its proper role of maintaining international peace and justice. – Yours, etc,

EDWARD HORGAN,

Limerick.

Sir, – At this moment, 100 years ago, our country was fighting for the right to take what Robert Emmet, speaking from the dock over a century before, had described as “her place among the nations of the earth”.

Ireland’s election to a two-year term on the UN Security Council will see us celebrate the centenary of Ireland’s hard-won independence while seated at the top table of the nearest thing this earth has to a parliament of mankind.

For all the Security Council’s imperfections, membership will give Ireland an opportunity to influence the council’s response to the conflicts and injustices that disfigure our planet; an opportunity both disproportionate to our size as a nation and far greater than we are afforded when looking on from outside.

Yet, voices are raised that question the cost of a successful election campaign that amounted to no more than the price of many a house advertised in property pages of your paper. No mean sum compared to the budgets of many struggling households but a modest expenditure, surely, to maintain Ireland’s place among the nations, particularly when compared to that paid by the men and women who sacrificed to secure that place for future generations. – Yours, etc,

DAVID COONEY,

Killiney, Co Dublin.

Sir, – After securing a seat on the UN Security Council, the Taoiseach and Tánaiste both said Ireland had “punched above its weight” in the “group of death”.

Since the UN exists to promote peace and harmony, could our representatives abjure pugilistic metaphors and bellicose rhetoric during Ireland’s two-year membership of the council? – Yours, etc,

Dr JOHN DOHERTY,

Gaoth Dobhair

Co Dhún na nGall.