O'DONNELL SAYS GOVT. ANNOUNCEMENT ON OVERSEAS AID IS "HISTORIC DECISION"
- Says Ireland will soon be in "front rank of countries dealing with poverty around the world"
The Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Liz O'Donnell TD, has welcomed today's Government announcement on Overseas Development Aid.
"I am delighted that after three years of political persuasion and with broad political support, the Taoiseach has today solemnly pledged to the UN Millennium Summit that Ireland will reach the UN target of 0.7% of GNP in our Overseas Development Aid programme by the end of 2007, and that we will meet an interim target of 0.45% of GNP by the end of 2002," Minister O'Donnell, who has responsibility for Overseas Development, said.
Speaking from New York where she is attending the UN Millennium Summit, Minister O'Donnell said this "historic" commitment would see the ODA budget - currently around £200m. a year - increase four-fold by the end of 2007.
She said it would put Ireland in the front rank of countries committing resources to dealing with extreme poverty around the world.
"Only four countries currently meet or exceed the UN target in ODA. While Ireland has long been committed to achieving the target, this is the first time any Government has pledged to meet it in a specific time frame and it has done so before the largest ever gathering of world leaders. It is my strong view, and the Cabinet now agrees, that our economic success both enables and compels us to meet the UN target," she added.
Minister O'Donnell said it placed our national aid programme on a completely new footing.
"It will greatly transform our capacity to make a real impact on the lives of some of the poorest people on earth. It will also strengthen our voice in the UN and other international organisations dealing with development issues. Our aid budget is both a test and a reflection of our commitment to civilised values.
"In expanding the aid programme, we are determined to ensure that its present internationally recognized high quality is maintained. We will be preparing a plan for the development of the programme to ensure that it is carried out effectively and that the huge sums of money involved are spent efficiently," she added.
Minister O'Donnell said we would be able to devote considerably more resources to our priority countries. "We will over time consider additional priority countries for inclusion in our aid programme. We want to donate more funds to debt relief. We will strengthen our involvement in the global effort to deal with infectious diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS and malaria. We will continue to devote resources to helping the poor meet their basic needs in health, education and water. We will intensify our involvement in key UN development agencies. We can give much greater assistance to countries suffering humanitarian disasters.
"An expanded aid programme will also enable the Government to commit considerably greater resources to the efforts of our own NGOs. In the coming year we will develop our relationship with the NGOs, placing our funding commitments on a new basis and preparing for a closer partnership in the context of a greatly expanded aid programme," she concluded.Top