Overseas development aid to be cut by €14.1 million

Irish aid to fall slightly to 0.43 per cent of gross national product

 Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Joe Costello File Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Joe Costello File Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Tue, Oct 15, 2013, 20:11

Department of Foreign Affairs funding for overseas development assistance will be cut by €14.1 million this year, the sixth successive year that funding has been cut.

The department’s annual budget will be €686 million next year. It plans to achieve a payroll saving of €3.3 million next year.

The cut in overseas aid will mean that it will fall slightly to 0.43 per cent of gross national product, leaving the State even further away from the desired target of 0.7 per cent of GNP set by the United Nations.

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs Joe Costello contrasted the cut with the 30 per cent reduction in the aid budget implemented by the previous government during the first years of the crisis.

“This Government has succeeded in broadly stabilising the budget. While the allocation announced today will reduce our spending on overseas assistance by some 3 per cent compared to last year, it still represents a very significant allocation for Ireland’s aid programme.”

In all the total Government budget for ODA is €602m to 2014, with the contribution from the Department of Foreign Affairs amounting to €482m in 2014.

The reduction was criticised by leading aid agencies. Concern chief executive Dominic McSorley said it was know that tough decisions would have to be made in the Budget but expressed disappointment.

“We have a world class aid programme that is internationally recognised for its impact and cost-effectiveness. It is a disappointment we have been cut for six years in a row,” he said.

Trócaire pointed out that the budget for ODA had fallen by a third since 2008 and said that in each budget since then the Government has moved further away from the 0.7 per cent target.

Plan Ireland said the cut would result in the poorest people in the world suffering disproportionately.

Hans Zomer of Dóchas said the upshot of the cut was that Ireland had not “stablised” the aid budget, despite assurances to that effect. “Today’s decision to cut the overseas aid budget by €19.4 million raises questions about Ireland’s ability to live up to its stated ambitions in this regard.”