‘Significant increase’ in aid spending needed to meet goals, says Coveney

Public consultation on Ireland’s new development policy calls for public submissions

 Tánaiste Simon Coveney launched public consultation into Ireland’s  new development policy on Thursday.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Tánaiste Simon Coveney launched public consultation into Ireland’s new development policy on Thursday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

A “significant increase in expenditure” on overseas aid will be needed in the upcoming budget if the State wants to meet its UN targets on development spending, the Tánaiste has said.

Speaking at a launch of the public consultation into Ireland’s new development policy, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the Government needed to increase aid spending from €700 million per annum to €2.5 billion a year by 2030 in order to meet its UN commitment of dedicating 0.7 per cent of the nation’s Gross National Income (GNI) on overseas development support.

“It is in our fundamental self-interest that Ireland contributes to a safer, more peaceful, more sustainable and more compassionate world,” Mr Coveney told representatives from business, civil society and universities from across Ireland. “The money we spend overseas is an investment in a safer and better world; a more equal place.”

Mr Coveney said the new international aid policy, which is expected to be released in late October, would refresh the State’s approach towards development aid while taking into account climate change and the “intensifying inequality” across the globe.

“The changing climate is no longer an academic debate in Ireland,” he said, referring to the freezing winter and extended drought the nation has experienced in the past six months.

Political partnership

He called for an urgent examination of the political partnership between Europe and Africa and warned that the current dialogue between the two bodies was “hopelessly inadequate”. The minister also underlined the importance of focusing on gender equality in the new development plan through unlocking women’s potential, expanding women’s choices and capabilities, giving women an equal voice and ending violence against women.

Anne O’Mahony, international programme director at Concern Worldwide, warned of an absence of “global leadership” in the support of nations suffering protracted crises that no longer make news headlines. She called for a “clear timetable” on when the Government planned to meet it’s 0.7 per cent UN commitments.

Ciarán Cannon, Minister of State for International Development said the public consultation would give the Irish people the chance to add their “insights, direction and thinking” to the debate around Irish overseas aid.

The launch of the public consultation follows last month’s release of the Government’s Global Ireland 2015 plan which laid out plans to achieved the UN target of spending 0.7 per cent of GNI on overseas aid within 12 years.

Members of the public have just six weeks, until August 23rd, to send in written submissions through the Irish Aid website on the improvements and changes they would like to see included in Ireland’s international development aid programme. Public consultations will also be held in Cork on September 13th, Galway on September 17th, Sligo on September 18th, Limerick on September 20th and Dublin on October 2nd.