Martin urged to ‘lead by example’ on overseas aid

Taoiseach to give speech on climate and security to UN Security Council on Friday

Taoiseach Micheál Martin will chair the UN Security Council meeting on Friday with a focus on the critical issues of climate and security. Photograph: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg

Taoiseach Micheál Martin will chair the UN Security Council meeting on Friday with a focus on the critical issues of climate and security. Photograph: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg

 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has been urged to “lead by example” ahead of his speech to the UN on Friday by signalling an increase in Overseas Development Aid (ODA) in the Budget in October.

Ireland assumed the presidency of the UN Security Council at the beginning of September and Mr Martin will also chair its meeting on Friday with a focus on the critical issues of climate and security.

Dóchas, the body representing non-governmental agencies in Ireland, has called on the Government to increase the percentage of ODA in the Budget from its current 0.31 per cent of Gross National Income.

Ireland has had a long-standing commitment to increase the State’s contribution to overseas aid to 0.7 per cent of national income. The Programme for Government sets a target date ahead of 2030 for the figure to be achieved. However, the percentage paid to aid for developing countries has fluctuated greatly during this millennium and, according to Dóchas, has stagnated in recent years.

In a statement, Dóchas chief executive Suzanne Keatinge said that as chair of the UN Security Council there is a responsibility on Ireland to highlight issues such as women, peace and security, gender equality and human rights.

“Now, more than ever, we need to do more as a nation to help our members continue their vital work,” she said.

“We need to seize this opportunity, after campaigning for a seat, to make a difference.”

Ms Keatinge said that attacks against those who defend human rights have continued and they have been exacerbated by Covid-19. She said some states had used the pandemic as an excuse to curtail human rights and to erode freedoms.

In a reference to countries such as Afghanistan, Paul O’Brien, CEO of Plan International Ireland, said that up to 11 million girls may now never return to school.

Mr O’Brien said the future of the world’s most vulnerable children was at stake and Ireland could not afford to do less.

Caoimhe de Barra, CEO of Trócaire said: “Along with conflict, climate change is one of the gravest challenges facing humanity. It is causing conflict as the competition for scarce resources such as land and water increases.

“Many countries are vulnerable, especially in Africa where the temperature increase has been more rapid than the global average with human-induced climate change being the dominant driver,” added Ms de Barra.

It has been pointed out that the poorest half of the world’s population is responsible for no more than 10 per cent of carbon emissions while the richest ten countries account for more than 50 per cent of emissions.