Irish and Canadian officials stood outside UN headquarters in New York as ambassadors arrived to cast their votes to elect non-permanent members to the UN Security Council.

They used clip boards to cross off names as black cars with diplomatic number plates passed through the security gates.

It was a checklist.

Countries had been promised votes by other member states and this was a way of monitoring when individual ambassadors were turning up to vote.

Inside the UN General Assembly chamber, it was a socially distanced affair.

Usually these votes are big gatherings, but that was not possible this time because of the coronavirus.

Instead, ambassadors were given specific time slots to cast their ballots, and did so wearing face masks.

It was a moment to be remembered for Ireland's ambassador to the UN, Geraldine Byrne Nason, who took a photo of the empty chamber as she arrived to vote.

There were thumbs-up and smiles as she cast her ballot, and no doubt there were a lot more smiles hours later when it was announced that Ireland’s bid had been successful.

Speaking after the announcement, Ambassador Byrne Nason said Ireland had sought the seat on the Security Council in order to make a difference.

"We do not intend to be there merely to make up the numbers. We will work with realism and ambition to make the council work for the most vulnerable trapped in conflict," she said.

Ireland’s performance on the Security Council will be closely watched, particularly by those who work with the world’s poorest populations.

Trócaire CEO Caoimhe de Barra urged the Irish Government to use its new position to protect the human rights of the poor and marginalised.

"We are an outward-looking country, one that is proud of its values and which wants those values to shape the world in which we live," she said.

Siobhan Walsh, CEO of the aid agency GOAL, said Ireland’s election to the Security Council has come at a time when the world faces profound challenges.

"We wish our Government and our diplomatic service the very best as they undertake this daunting yet critical role as interlocutors of global peace and peacekeeping," she said.

With the vote won, Irish officials can put away the clipboards and checklists for now, but busy times lie ahead when Ireland takes a seat at the UN’s top table next year.