Ireland has formally taken its seat as an elected member of the United Nations Security Council. It will serve a two-year term.

The Government campaigned for the temporary seat on the themes of "partnership, empathy and independence", and said its success "underpins Ireland's place in the world... as a global island".

Since joining the UN in December 1955, Ireland has previously served on the UN Security Council three times - in 1962, 1981-82 and in 2001-2002. 

The council has five permanent members and ten non-permanent members - five of which change every year.

A seat at this table counts, as the Security Council is the only arm of the UN that can approve sanctions and military action, and issue binding resolutions on member states.

Ireland's previous terms have been eventful.

The first, in 1962, coincided with the Cuban Missile Crisis - often described as the closest the world has come to all-out nuclear war.

Ireland's second term saw the Falklands War erupt in 1982.

The most recent spell on the Security Council occurred in the wake of the 11 September attacks, as the US led a bombing campaign against Afghanistan.

While Ireland's duties have yet to be finalised, they will probably include work on the nuclear deal with Iran.

Ireland is also due to hold the rotating presidency in September.

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Ireland would act fairly and independently in the tasks of supporting and promoting international peace and security.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the country was taking its seat at a very challenging time but would play its part building the trust and political will necessary to achieve progress.

The United Nations flag is to fly at Leinster House to mark Ireland's new role on the UN Security Council.

Mark Daly, the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, said both the Irish flag and the UN flag are symbols of peace and the initiative acknowledges the fact that every day since 1958 Irish men and women from the Defence Forces have been involved in peacekeeping duties.