President Michael D Higgins has addressed the United Nations in New York. He was speaking at a high-level meeting on peace-building and said that while we celebrate the end of violence in Northern Ireland, we are reminded daily of the challenges of sustaining peace.

In his address to the UN, President Higgins said that the experience in Northern Ireland shows that peace does not come without engagement and remains a process to be nurtured. 

He praised the remarkable work of the Irish men and women who have served on UN Peacekeeping missions abroad but said that this is not a substitute for political dialogue and mediation, rather one element of a comprehensive response.

President Higgins also spoke about criticisms of the UN. 

He said that young people are appalled at suggestions that the Security Council is a place where the strut of the powerful and the wielders of power prevails. 

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In recent weeks, the UNSC chamber has heard stinging condemnations of suspected chemical attacks in Syria and angry exchanges between the US and Russia.

Ireland does not have a seat on the council, but it is looking to gain one of the rotating seats in three years’ time.

Two rotating seats are up for grabs in 2021 and the Government has its eye on one of them.

In the past, Ireland has won two-year rotating terms on the Security Council in 1962, 1981 and 2001.

This time around, Ireland faces some stiff competition from Canada and Norway who are also looking for seats.

The campaign to convince the other United Nations member states to back Ireland's bid is under way.

The Government said it was using the recent St Patrick's visits to lobby world leaders for their votes.

During his address to the United Nations General Assembly last year, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said: "Ireland is proud to be a candidate for a seat in the UN Security Council in the elections to be held in 2020."

He added: "We have something to say and we will listen to you when you speak. We will be courageous on behalf of the UN when needed.

"With Ireland, you know what you get - a small country with big thinking, a country that listens, and a strong independent voice."

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President Higgins delivered his address today at a high-level meeting on 'Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace'.

Tomorrow, President Higgins will meet the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, and other senior UN officials where he will stress Ireland's commitment to the United Nations.

He will also hold talks with other heads of state that are important to Ireland's bid for a Security Council seat.

The United Nations Security Council often comes in for criticism and permanent members, such as the US and Russia, can use a veto if they do not like the resolution being discussed.

But from the Government's perspective the view is that it is better to have a voice at the table than to be shouting from the outside.

Meanwhile, Mr Higgins reaffirmed that he will make a decision regarding a possible second term in Áras an Uachtaráin "by July."

He said he needed the time to weigh up exactly what is involved and said he has had many people contacting him.

He added: "My decision is my decision, it doesn't affect anybody else's decision."

He also said that "if there are to be contests, I've never ran away from contests in my life, why should I?"