09 October 2016

Budget 2017 should include a significant increase for Ireland’s international aid fund.  At 0.35% of GNP, the Irish Aid fund is at its lowest percentage in nearly two decades.  It is only half of our UN target of 0.7%.


Our neighbours in the United Kingdom reached the UN target a few years ago despite their economic difficulties. 


Labour’s fully costed alternative budget, launched last week, provided €32 to fund a 5% increase in ODA next year. We also proposed that a multi-annual series of increases to our ODA budget be agreed during 2017, with a view to finally reaching the 0.7% target.


We have always prided ourselves on our generosity to those who are less well off, so the budget should include a realistic contribution to alleviate the poverty and hunger of those millions of people who are living on the margins.


The recent hurricane in the Caribbean, the ongoing slaughter in Syria and the Mediterranean suicide crossings are evidence of a world in turmoil and in need of urgent assistance.


As a former Minister for Trade and Development, I know very well the transformative contribution Irish Aid is making in so many parts of the developing world.  Seven of our nine priority countries are in the world’s poorest countries in Sub Saharan Africa.  We provide essential services in education, health, development project and trade and we provide life-saving expertise, equipment and food where catastrophic national disasters occur.


With new UN Sustainable Development Goals agreed for 2015-30 to eradicate dire poverty from the world, Ireland which contributed so much to the agreement of those international goals must be to the forefront in their implementation.  We must lead by example and, in the first instance, and must put in place a sufficient increase in our annual development budget to reach the target of .7% of GDP within a few short years.


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