By Ray O’Hanlon
It is "crucially important" that the recommended changes contained in the Patten Report on police reform in Northern Ireland are put into effect, Ireland’s minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen, told the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week.
In delivering Ireland’s annual address to the opening session of the assembly, Cowen also delivered another pitch for Ireland’s inclusion as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
"Policing is a vital part of the new dispensation we are striving to create in Northern Ireland," Cowen told the assembly.
"All sides of the community want to see an effective, accountable policing service to which they can give allegiance and which young people, whatever their background, can join.
"The [Good Friday] agreement promised a new beginning in this area and the Patten Report set out how it can be achieved. It is now crucially important that the legislative proposals, currently before parliament at Westminster, secure that outcome."
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Cowen also addressed a wide range of global issues in his speech including UN peacekeeping, nuclear non-proliferation, the scourge of HIV/AIDS and international development aid. Ireland, he said, would increase its development aid four-fold over the next seven years.
His speech included two references to Ireland’s bid for a seat on the Security Council. A full assembly vote is set for next month and Ireland is one of three bidders for two vacant seats set aside for Europe. The other two countries are Norway and Italy.
Cowen said that Ireland would bring its experience of "peace building" and development to the Security Council table if elected. He also reminded delegates that it has been 20 years since Ireland had last stood for election to the council.
During his visit to New York, Cowen was expected to meet with as many as 70 fellow foreign ministers as part of Ireland’s Security Council campaign.
Cowen’s U.S. visit also includes a visit to Washington D.C., where he will meet with members of Congress, including Sens. Edward Kennedy and Chris Dodd and Rep. Ben Gilman, chairman of the House International Relations Committee. Returning to New York on Thursday, Cowen will attend at a meeting of the Irish Immigration Working Committee.