Last week, under the leadership of the Cathaoirleach, I was fortunate to be one of a small number of people, with Senator Mulherin and Deputy Brassil, to attend the United Nations in New York on Thursday and Friday.
It was a real eye-opener and a very important event. We met the Irish Permanent Representative to the UN, H.E. Geraldine Byrne Nason. Ireland has been a member of the UN since 1955 and a UN peacekeeping nation since 1958. Senator Craughwell’s colleagues in the peacekeeping force have served every day since then. Irish lives have been lost as a result of the peacekeeping efforts. We are particularly proud of the help provided by our peacekeeping forces in other nations. It is one of the badges that makes us unique. Ireland is the greatest contributor in Europe to peacekeeping and that is something of which we are very proud. We are privileged to be involved in it. We are indebted to our women and men who go on peacekeeping missions. I know people whose family members have given their lives to that cause.
I ask that we consider suspending Standing Orders for half a day and invite the ambassador, H.E. Ms Byrne Nason, and the Tánaiste, Deputy Coveney, to address the House, and inform Members on the current state of the UN, its role and our relationship with and contribution to it.
As Members are aware, Ireland is seeking a seat on the UN Security Council. There is all-party support for that endeavour. I and my two Oireachtas colleagues who were in the UN last week strongly lobbied colleagues from other countries that Ireland should get a seat on the Security Council. This is an opportunity for us, a key democratic House of the Irish Parliament, to say we are supporting our people in the UN and our ambassador. When we visit foreign countries and colleagues in other parliaments, we can tell them we need their support for this. I ask for that to be considered by the Leader and the Cathaoirleach.