Mellon says Irish Aid should provide Irish jobs in Africa


Funds under the Government’s official Irish Aid programme should be more actively used to create Irish jobs abroad, entrepreneur and philanthropist Niall Mellon has said.

“A lot of people are talking about reducing the Irish Aid budget and I don’t agree with that,” Mr Mellon said. “But the Irish economy is in a state of crisis and creativity has to be the central word in funding solutions out of this situation.”

He was speaking following an announcement that his charity, the Niall Mellon Township Trust, has chosen Kenya for its 2013 building blitz, where the focus will be on education.

“One of the first things I intend to do, as part of the education initiative I’ve announced today, will be to offer employment opportunities to Irish schoolteachers to work abroad with us for one year in teaching positions. And we sincerely hope that Irish Aid will be interested in being one of our key partners.”

The idea arose from his recent discovery that more than 300 people had applied for one teaching post at his son’s State primary school in Dublin.

“Perhaps a lot of those unsuccessful applicants could be offered a low-paying but adequate contract – say about €12,000 to €15,000 – to work in an African country for a year. Wouldn’t it be fantastic, particularly for the most recently qualified teachers? And it wouldn’t cost the Irish taxpayer one cent because it would come out of the existing Irish Aid budget.”

Mr Mellon intended to “start slowly in education”, he said – as he had 11 years ago in South Africa – and “part and parcel of that would be getting Irish Aid funding for up to 200 teachers”.

Earlier, at the 1,500-pupil primary school in Wallacedene township, Cape Town, 600 Irish volunteers walked on to the site of the charity’s final week-long housebuilding blitz in South Africa. In 10 years, the Niall Mellon trust has built about 20,000 homes.