Aid on the agenda as Taoiseach meets Canadian premier


Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is to hold talks with the Canadian prime minister Paul Martin today at which they will discuss development aid issues and the reform of UN structures.

Mr Martin, who is on a two-day visit to Ireland before heading to Edinburgh for the G8 summit tomorrow, will meet Mr Ahern for private talks at Government buildings, followed by a working lunch.

One key issue to be discussed is development aid, which is at the centre of the G8 agenda in Scotland.

Mr Ahern and Mr Martin have faced similar criticisms domestically in relation to commitments to development aid.

While both have claimed their governments have strong records when it comes to aid, the failure of the Canadian and Irish Governments to commit to a timeframe to raise development aid to 0.7 per cent of GDP has been widely criticised. The Canadian government has said that reaching 0.7 per cent by 2015, the international target date, will be almost impossible.

Both leaders will also discuss UN reforms, with Canada having been a strong advocate for change in relation to the UN security council structure.

The men, who have a good working relationship dating back to the early 1990s, will also discuss bilateral trade issues between the countries.

Recently Sir Bob Geldof, in an article in a Canadian newspaper, urged Mr Martin to do more in relation to debt relief and development aid.

"Make Poverty History and Live 8 are indeed forcing change," he wrote.

Yesterday Mr Martin paid a courtesy call to the President, Mrs McAleese, and he also intends to visit the Peace and Reconciliation Centre at Glencree in Co Wicklow.