TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar joined Bono on stage at Madison Square Garden in New York last night as Ireland launched its campaign to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
The Irish PM invited a delegation of UN ambassadors to U2's sold-out gig at the iconic venue in a bid to impress them enough with Irish music, heritage and culture to elect Ireland to a non-permanent seat for the 2021-2022 term.
Speaking during the concert, Bono paid tribute to Mr Varadkar and his deputy Simon Coveney for their "very hard work" in protecting "our borderless island".
This evening, Mr Varadkar will be joined by Mr Coveney, former Irish President Mary Robinson and Bono once again for the country's formal pitch at an event at the UN’s HQ in Manhattan.
Over 400 UN bigwigs have been invited to attend the Irish-hosted event on the UN's North Lawn, which contains the ‘Arrival’ sculpture by Irish artist John Behan - gifted to the organisation by Ireland in 2000.
'Ireland's international presence'
In a statement last night, a spokesperson for the Irish Government said: "Our bid for a seat on the Council is an important element of Global Ireland 2025, the recently launched strategy to double the scale and impact of Ireland’s international presence.
"Ireland goes forward for election to the Security Council at roughly 20 year intervals.
"We are competing with Canada and Norway for one of two seats available."
Ireland first became a member of the UN in 1955, and previously won two-year rotating terms on the Security Council in 1962, 1981 and 2001.
Also today, the Taoiseach will participate in a ceremony to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Ireland’s participation on UN peacekeeping operations, and pay tribute to the 88 members of the Defence Forces killed while on UN service.
Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Mr Varadkar said he does not underestimate the competition for the seat, but believes Ireland can win it.
"Ireland’s campaign for a seat on the UN Security Council is central to our international agenda, and is driven by our belief that we are far stronger acting together than we are acting alone," the 39-year-old said.
"Winning a seat on the UN Security Council would place Ireland at the heart of UN decision-making on international peace, security and development.
"It would also continue Ireland’s proud tradition of international engagement dating back to our admission to the UN in 1955".
He added: "We will have a tough campaign on our hands over the next two years and we certainly don’t underestimate our competition, but I am confident that by putting our full support behind the campaign and by emphasising Ireland’s unique strengths and track record, we can succeed."