Taoiseach addressing the General Debate of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly last year. Alamy Stock Photo

Taoiseach to travel to NY for UN events, but will timetable allow for Biden meeting this week?

The Taoiseach will deliver Ireland’s National Statement in the UN on Thursday.

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN will travel to New York next week to take part in the UN General Assembly High Level Week which will be attended by world leaders, including US President Joe Biden.

While it had been suggested back in March that Martin might get a chance to meet the US president in the White House before the year is out, sources have said it now seems unlikely he’ll make a trip to DC.

The Taoiseach missed out on the annual St Patrick’s Day visit to the Oval Office as he contracted Covid before the head-to-head meeting. 

Instead, a virtual call was held between the two leaders with the Taoiseach in isolation in Blair House, a residence across the road from the White House. 

As Martin is out of the role of Taoiseach in December, it is believed he is keen to meet with the US president, in-person, before the end of the year.

Leo Varadkar will attend the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in the White House next March, as he will be Taoiseach at that time.

washington-dc-usa-17th-mar-2022-washington-dc-usa-17-march-2022-u-s-president-joe-biden-chats-with-irish-prime-minister-micheal-martin-by-video-conference-to-mark-st-patricks-day-with-the-trad US President Joe Biden held a virtual meeting with Taoiseach Micheál Martin last year. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Leaders gather in London

While a quick trip to Washington DC next week might be too much of an ask, (the Taoiseach arrives in New York on Wednesday and is returning home on Friday) there have been suggestions that perhaps a meeting between the Taoiseach and US president could take place on the fringes of the UN meetings.

Sources say nothing has been confirmed, with some pointing out that the two leaders will also be in London for the funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.

Perhaps a meeting before then?

Martin is due to meet UK Prime Minister Liz Truss in London this morning, before attending the queen’s funeral tomorrow. 

It had been reported that Truss was to hold one-to-one talks with the US President before the funeral, however, it has since been confirmed that the pair will not meet in an official capacity prior to the funeral. Instead a full bilateral meeting will take place at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

With the Biden arriving in London yesterday, there have been some suggestions that perhaps a sit-down between the Taoiseach and US president either today or tomorrow could be arranged.

The Taoiseach is returning to Ireland following the funeral on Monday to attend the National Ploughing Championships on Wednesday.

UN week 

The high-level UN week has been in flux due to the passing of the queen, with many world leaders flying to London. 

Biden’s address to the UN General Assembly was postponed one day due to the funeral, with the president now set to take the stage on Wednesday, according to Politico, which reports that garnering support for Ukraine will be the focus of his speech. 

Indeed, much of the week will be spent on Ukraine with a particular emphasis on accountability. Coveney is expected to attend a meeting with other member states who say they are determined to explore the issue.  

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A UN Security Council meeting, which Ireland is still a member of, will take place next week and will focus on Ukraine.

This is being considered as the most high-profile Security Council meeting of Ireland’s two-year term. 

According to think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, calls for keeping sanctions against Russia are expected. But the Council might also seek a negotiated end to the war, while legal accountability of Russian political and military leaders will also be sought.

Ireland’s former Ambassador to the UN Geraldine Byrne Nason, who is now Irish Ambassador to the US, previously told The Journal in an interview that there needs to be a move at Security Council level towards peace talks.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney will also be in attendance at a number of events, including meetings relating to Ukraine, the global hunger crisis and health challenges such as Aids, TB and malaria, as well as peacebuilding, situations in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel and the Middle East.

National statement

The Taoiseach will deliver Ireland’s National Statement on Thursday 22 September. 

The food crisis in the Horn of Africa, which is experiencing famine and widespread food security issues, will be a key focus for the Irish delegation throughout the week. 

Ireland will also be keen to highlight some of what it deems to be its successes during its time on the Security Council. 

In terms of development, a priority for Ireland’s global public health work is the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria, which next week will have its three yearly replenishment conference. 

The conference is a big multilateral effort involving states and the private sector to generate funding to fight TB, AIDS, and malaria, with this year’s event hosted by Joe Biden.

Ireland has been a strong supporter of the fund since it was established in 2002, giving €50 million in the last three years and a total of €273 million since 2002. 

This year the aim is to raise $18 billion for the next three years. The fund says this could save 20 million lives and reduce the mortality rate by 64% across the three diseases.

It is understood Coveney will speak at the replenishment conference on Wednesday afternoon. It is expected that Ireland will make a significant pledge of increased funding.

With Ireland considered a champion in fighting hunger, there will also be mention by the minister and Taoiseach of the widespread hunger crisis and food security issues. 

Ireland has pledged a total of €800 million over five years at the Nutrition for Growth Summit to fight undernutrition and malnutrition. Coveney will attend an event, chaired by Administer to US Aid Samantha Power also on Wednesday which will be focused on the current crisis of child malnutrition.

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