Our latest global Irish conversation goes behind the scenes of the globe’s most significant international organization, the United Nations, courtesy of Ireland’s Ambassador to the UN, Fergal Mythen.
He didn’t rise to one of Ireland’s most significant diplomatic postings without an impressive diplomatic career behind him.
Fergal has worked on Irish-Canadian, Irish-Latin American, Irish-Caribbean, and Irish-British Affairs, including Brexit. He was on the European Community monitoring mission to the former Yugoslavia, and joined the representation of Ireland to the European Union in Brussels.
We discuss his growing up in an Ireland on the cusp of change, what the opening of free second level education meant to him, the lessons he learned at the embassy in Rome about looking after people in real need, the challenges of the peripatetic diplomatic life, and his takeaways from six months representing Ireland on the UN Security Council.
He has a clear-eyed view of the UN, saying, “it's imperfect, but it can try its best to prevent hell on earth.”
He’s enjoying New York’s vitality and its surprisingly warm welcome, getting to know the Irish-American community, and weekends spent getting his children out to play Gaelic sports.
Speaking of sport, his “Seamus Plug” is a call to action to ensure a pathway for young girls and women to stay actively involved in sport and to raise awareness of the UN’s sustainable development goals.
Our conversation opened with a quote from John F. Kennedy which the Ambassador feels is spot on: “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”
Ambassador of Ireland to the UN
In the summer of 2022, Fergal Mythen became the Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations.
Prior to his appointment, Mr. Mythen was Director General of the Ireland, United Kingdom and Americas Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs, where he has held various posts since 1990.
Between 2013 and 2017, Mr. Mythen was Director General of the Department’s Corporate Services Division, having served as Counsellor in the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the European Union between 2009 and 2013. From 2005 to 2009, he was Counsellor of the Anglo-Irish Division.
Between 2003 and 2005, he was First Secretary in the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the European Union.
Mr. Mythen also served as First Secretary of the Anglo-Irish Division between 1999 and 2003, and as First Secretary of the Political Division, from 1997. He was seconded to the European Union Monitoring Mission in Sarajevo from 1996 to 1997.
Born in 1968, he earned a Bachelor of Arts from Trinity College, Dublin, and a higher diploma in business studies from University College Dublin.