United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Laurent Gillieron/AP/Press Association Images
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Ireland seeking election to UN Human Rights Council, says Taoiseach

Taoiseach Enda Kenny made the announcement on the 45th World Day of Peace as he welcomed Pope Benedict XVI’s messsage marking the event.

AN TAOISEACH, ENDA Kenny, has said that Ireland is to seek to become a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

He made the announcement as he welcomed Pope Benedict XVI’s message on the World Day of Peace, which was on the theme of Educating Young People in Justice and Peace.

Kenny said that on the 45th World Day of Peace, a commitment to justice and to peace is fundamental to achieving human rights:

Through our participation in the European Union, in our ongoing commitment over many decades with a process that has lead to peace on our island, and by our strong engagement with the peacekeeping forces of the United Nations, the Irish people have demonstrated an instinctive respect for peace, justice and human rights. It is absolutely right that these values are transmitted to the next generation. It is the case also that the honour and duty of passing on those values falls to those formally charged with the education of our young and beyond that the whole of society.

He added that “both within our own country, and in the wider world, Ireland is at the fore of those promoting peace, justice, security and development”.

To mark this, he made the announcement that this year, for the first time, Ireland is seeking election to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

If elected, Ireland would support clear and strong action by the Council in addressing human rights violations and in promoting universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, became the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in 1997.

Also on the World Day of Peace, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, Most Rev Diarmuid Martin, gave his thoughts on the year ahead.

He said:

Our society needs such dialogue between faith and life, between reason and faith. This is particularly the case for our own Irish society in which there has been a radical change in the way in which we base and root the values which underlie our peaceful living together as a pluralist society.

Archbishop Martin said that The Catholic Church “had a dominant influence on the values which keep our social interaction intact” in Ireland, and that “a new situation now exists and this requires a change in the manner of interaction between Church and State”.

He said that “faith in Jesus Christ cannot be imposed on any individual” and that when attempts are made to impose faith on a society, “then the originality of faith is inevitably damaged”.

However this does not mean that faith has no contribution to the political or even the economic life of a society. There have been dark moments in the history of the Catholic Church which have been unveiled in recent years. Church leaders have over the years overstepped the boundaries of their legitimate mandate. Yet the contribution of individual believers and of the Church as an institution to Ireland’s development and social culture has overall been positive. A mature future-oriented dialogue between Church and Irish culture should build on those positive aspects of our past.

The Archbishop said that criticism or even rejection of the Catholic Church and what it represents is legitimate, “but criticism is different from negative and cynical caricature of faith or spin”.

He said that a “mature dialogue” between Church and society in Ireland requires renewal in the Church, and that the International Eucharistic Congress, which will be held in Dublin this year, will provide a moment for Catholic Christians “to reflect on what their faith in Jesus Christ means in today’s society”.

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