Less than half say development aid should be increased


FEWER THAN half of Irish people believe the Government should increase overseas aid to developing countries, a new survey suggests.

The latest Eurobarometer poll on Irish attitudes to development aid found the public’s support for aid to people in developing countries is down 10 per cent since last year. The survey was carried out in September, several weeks before the Government announced a cut of €52.9 million in overseas aid as part of Budget 2012.

When asked whether the Government’s promise of increasing assistance to developing countries to 0.7 per cent of gross national income by 2015 should be kept, or aid increased further, support dropped by 10 per cent to 49 per cent, putting Ireland below the EU average of 62 per cent.

While 85 per cent of respondents consider it “very important” or “fairly important” to help developing countries, this represents a drop of 10 per cent since the last survey in 2010.

Twenty-two per cent said aid should be reduced as Ireland can no longer afford it, an increase of 7 per cent on last year and above the EU average of 18 per cent. A further 23 per cent of Irish respondents said aid should not be increased, representing an increase of 3 per cent since the last survey and well above the EU average of 14 per cent.

Eighty-eight per cent believed countries should be required to follow certain rules regarding democracy, human rights and governance as a condition for receiving aid, slightly above the EU average of 84 per cent.

The Government is due to complete a comprehensive review of its overseas development aid policy by next July.

The 2010 annual report of Irish Aid showed Ireland’s 2010 overseas aid contribution of €675 million represented a fall for a third year in a row as a percentage of gross national product (GNP).

The €675 million, 0.53 per cent of GNP, is down from 0.59 per cent in 2008 and 0.55 per cent in 2009. The outlay for this year is expected to be €659 million, a drop of €16 million on 2010 and a reduction to 0.52 per cent of GNP.

The Eurobarometer survey was carried out in the 27 EU member states. A total of 26,856 Europeans aged 15 or over were interviewed for the survey, of which 1,015 people were interviewed in Ireland by Ipsos MRBI.