Foreign Affairs Estimates for 2005 Published
The Estimates for Public Services in 2005 were published today. They include a total provision of €166 million for Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs). ODA spending for 2005 will total €535 million (€460 million from Vote 29 for International Cooperation plus €75 million in contributions from other Government Departments and agencies).
Minister Ahern announces:
- Very Substantial Increase for Emigrant Services
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern, T.D., said today that he is extremely pleased that €8.267 million will be available to support our emigrants in 2005.
This €8.267 million is a doubling of the 2004 estimates figure. Even allowing for the additional funding which was made available in late 2004, the figure represents an overall increase of 63%.
The Minister stressed that "this very substantial increase reflects in the clearest possible way the strength of the Government's commitment to our emigrant communities. This commitment is both immediate and long-term, and today's very substantial allocation will be built on progressively over the coming years."
Under the direction of the new Dedicated Unit in the Department of Foreign Affairs – the Irish Abroad Unit – the funding will in large part go to groups providing front line services to our emigrant communities in Britain, and especially the most vulnerable Irish people there.
The establishment of the Irish Abroad Unit has been warmly welcomed, both at home and abroad.
There will also be substantial increases for emigrant groups providing similar services in the United States and Australia.
- a €60 million increase in 2005 in ODA
“The Government is committed to increasing Ireland's allocation to Overseas Development Assistance – now and into the future.” Minister Ahern said today. “This is why we have allocated €60 million extra this year.”
“Our total ODA commitment in 2005 will reach €535 million when the contributions of other Government Departments are factored in. This is the highest amount ever allocated in the history of the aid programme. And we will increase Ireland's allocation by an additional €65 million in 2006 and by another €65 million again in 2007.”
“Ireland can be proud of its development aid record. We have a top class programme whose excellence is internationally recognised. We have been increasing our assistance every year. Our programmes are focussed on the poorest and most vulnerable. They are having a positive impact on countless individual lives in Africa, in particular. We will continue these efforts now and into the future, working closely with the NGO community.”
[see separate press release]
- resources for an advanced passport service
“During the past few years, the Government has worked to provide one of the most advanced passport services in the world.”
“Before the end of this year we will produce a new machine readable passport capable of incorporating biometric information. The resources allocated for next year – some €19 million – will complete the project. The new passport will be produced using the latest technologies and will be one of the most secure passports in the world. This will enable us to meet the highest international standard for travel documentation and make travel easier for our citizens.”
- provision to develop a new visa system
“For our growing economy we need a visa system which is efficient, effective and secure and which uses the latest technology available. I have secured an additional €4 million to develop our visa system to the highest international standards,” Mr Ahern said.
- upgrading of telecommunications links
“Underpinning the development of the new passport and visa services will be the continued upgrading of our telecommunications links” the Minister stressed. “We will continue to invest in new technology to provide a state of the art passport and visa service. We will also deliver value for money by reducing costs in areas such as international telephone charges.”
- contribution to European Investment Bank
“In 2005 we will make, for the first time a contribution to the European Investment Bank. This contribution of €250,000 in 2005 (€1 million over four years) is earmarked for the Mediterranean Basin.”
- an allocation for the European Constitution
“I have made provision in next year's budget of €150,000 for information material on the European Constitution. While no decision has been made on when a referendum will be held, we expect to publish a White Paper and possibly other information materials in 2005.”
18 November 2004