#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 17°C Friday 30 July 2021

Irish politicians really wanted Bob Geldof to win the Nobel Peace Prize

It didn’t happen for Bob though.

Bob Geldof at Wembley Stadium as it prepares for the Live Aid concert.
Bob Geldof at Wembley Stadium as it prepares for the Live Aid concert.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE LEADERS OF Ireland’s major political parties of the time all lobbied for Bob Geldof to be awarded the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize, newly released files have revealed.

Garret Fitzgerald (Fine Gael), Charlie Haughey (Fianna Fáil), Dick Spring (Labour) and Tomás Mac Giolla (Workers’ Party) all signed a letter supporting the nomination of Geldof for the accolade.

This and other papers relating to the campaign for Geldof have been released to the National Archives under the 30-year-rule.

The nomination in late 1985 comes after Live Aid earlier that year which saw Geldof organise the concert event across two continents to raise money and awareness for the Ethiopian famine.

The letter on government headed paper sent to the Secretary of the Nobel Committee in Norway reads:

We support the nomination of Mr. Bob Geldof for receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize for 1986 in recognition of his unique and outstanding contribution to the relief of famine in Africa and the promoting consciousness and effective expression of the common humanity of peoples throughout the world and the need for solidarity between them.

In addition to the letter of support, the department of then Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald also sent a testimony about Geldof in which he was described as an Irish citizen who “requires little introduction”.

The letter notes that more than a billion people watched the Live Aid concerts which came from both London and Philadelphia.

“His initiative was such that the world responded quickly, and generous contributions were made towards famine relief, particularly in Ireland where folk still recalls the horror of famine here in the nineteenth century,” the letter says.


In the end, the Nobel Peace Prize for 1986 was awarded to American writer and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel who was a prisoner in two Nazi death camps.

Read: Dublin photographer’s portraits leave stars with ‘nowhere to hide’ >

Read: 30 years ago Ireland was rocking out for the unemployed >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

Read next: