Irish people think Government should spend more on overseas aid

EU survey found 68% believe developed countries should allocate more funding

Irish people think citizens must play a role in international development and not rely solely on Government support, according to the Eurobarometer survey. Photographer: Paul Thomas/Bloomberg

Irish people think citizens must play a role in international development and not rely solely on Government support, according to the Eurobarometer survey. Photographer: Paul Thomas/Bloomberg

 

Nearly three out of four Irish people think the Government should increase its overseas development aid support, according to a survey on Europeans’ views on development.

The Eurobarometer survey, which was carried out using face-to-face interviews with over 28,000 participants across Europe including 1,037 people in Ireland, found Irish people are the third most likely in the EU to view helping people in developing countries as “very important”.

It found 68 per cent of Irish people think developed countries should allocate more money to overseas aid, up 12 percentage points on last year’s survey.

“This poll confirms what we already knew: people in Ireland are hugely supportive of international cooperation to fight the biggest problems of our time: hunger, disease, climate chaos and growing inequality,” said Hans Zomer, Director of Dóchas, the network of Ireland’s overseas development NGOs.

“The vast majority of people in Ireland realise that our world is connected like never before and that what happens in one part of the world matters to us all.”

According to the research, Irish people think citizens must play a role in international development and not rely solely on Government support. Ireland is one of the few EU member states where a majority of respondents are personally involved in helping developing countries, with 58 per cent of Irish participants saying they have played a role in tackling poverty.

The survey found two thirds of Europeans think the fight against poverty should be the European Union’s main priority. It also shows young people in the EU (aged 15-24) tend to be more positive about development than their older counterparts.

In contrast, the Irish overseas aid budget has fallen by 30 per cent in recent years, having hit a high point of 0.59 per cent of GNP (€920 million) in 2008. It is expected to come in at some 0.43 per cent of GNP, or just over €600 million, this year.

However, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Ireland did better than many European countries in protecting its aid budget during the financial crisis, despite not meeting the 0.7 per cent UN Millennium Development Goal target in 2012.

An OECD review into Ireland’s aid spending, released in December 2014, stated the country had punched “above its weight on global development issues” and “has a talent” for building networks and alliances to support development.

This year’s Eurobarometer survey coincides with the launch of the European Year for Development which is dedicated to creating public debate about EU efforts to spread awareness of global issues such as poverty, inequality and climate change.

The poll also comes in advance of the UN’s 2015 sustainable development agenda which will be launched in New York next September to succeed the Millennium Development Goals.