Time for focus on overseas aid budget

 

Sir, – With Taoiseach Leo Varadkar due to address world leaders at the opening of the United Nations Nelson Mandela Peace Summit in New York on Monday, we are hopeful that he will take the opportunity to reaffirm Ireland’s commitment to helping the world’s most vulnerable and marginalised people.

The summit, taking place a day before the start of the annual general debate of the UN General Assembly, will focus on global peace in honour of the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela. World leaders will renew their commitment to global peace, conflict prevention and resolution, peace-building, human rights and sustainable development. Ireland will partner with South Africa at the summit to co-facilitate a political declaration in support of these issues.

While the Taoiseach’s speech will be an important reminder to the global community of our commitment to peace and sustainable development, our actions will be the true test of this commitment.

Budget 2019 is a critical opportunity for Ireland to make real, concrete progress towards fostering peace and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, agreed by the UN in 2015.

Reaching Ireland’s commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of gross national income on official development assistance (ODA) by 2030 is a vital step on this journey.

Despite small monetary increases in the aid budget over the past two years, Ireland is still only spending 0.3 per cent of GNI on this cause.

This is why the Dóchas pre-budget submission calls on the Government to publish a roadmap to meet the 0.7 per cent target on a planned and phased basis, and to increase spending on ODA in Budget 2019 by 0.05 per cent.

Only then will Ireland be able to maintain its reputation as a leader in international peace and sustainable development, and play our role in making Mandela’s vision of a peaceful, democratic and just world for all a reality. – Yours, etc,

SUZANNE KEATINGE,

Chief Executive,

Dóchas,

Olympic House,

Pleasants Street,

Dublin 8.