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Leo pays tribute to the 88 Irish peacekeepers who never made it home

Today, Leo Varadkar launched Ireland’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.

PHOTO-2018-07-02-12-01-45 Source: Department of An Taoiseach

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has paid tribute to the Irish citizens who died while serving as part of United Nations peacekeeping missions over the past 60 years.

Earlier today, Varadkar laid a wreath at the UN headquarters in New York to commemorate the Irish peacekeepers “who never made it home”.

Ireland first began taking part in the UN’s peacekeeping missions in 1958. Since then, “tens of thousands of Irish women and men have worn the blue helmets on UN peacekeeping operations”, Varadkar told the UN Peacekeeping Memorial Ceremony in New York.

When I visited the UNIFIL mission at Christmas, I saw some of the risks, hazards, and threats that our peacekeeping personnel face on a daily basis.

“I also saw the way that our peacekeepers approach their tasks, the security and humanitarian assistance they provide, and the powerful stabilising impact they have on the communities in which they serve.”

He said that the Irish approach to peacekeeping was “defined” by its “innate sense of service in support of local communities”.

The UN’s largest peacekeeping missions are in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Mali, each running to more than $1 billion a year (around €862 million).

Last year, the top contributors to peacekeeping funding were the United States with 28.5%, China with 10.3% and Japan with 9.7%.

UN Security Council bid

Ireland is currently bidding for a seat on the UN Security Council – Varadkar and Táinaiste Simon Coveney launched Ireland’s bid today in New York. There are two seats on offer, and two other countries are also going for the positions – Norway and Canada.

The successful bidders will take up the role from 2021.

Noel Dorr, an Irishman who formerly had a seat on the UN Security Council during the 1980s, told RTÉ’s Six One this evening that he believed that the council was important.

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“We want to have a role in that, we want to have a role in trying to make the world a bit better through our role in the Security Council,” he said.

He said “we did achieve some things in Lebanon” and that there was some progress with the war in Iraq. He acknowledged weaknesses with the UN and said that it had shortcomings but that it was better than nothing.

“Bringing peace and order and justice to international society has defeated generations for centuries and has rarely ever happened. It’s become a world of sovereign states, it wasn’t always that, it was once empires and colonies and so on.

“What better can we do? Try to make it better, but we cannot start again.”

- with reporting from AFP

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