Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the up to date position with the Irish overseas aid programme up to 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Joe Costello): Ireland’s aid programme prioritises the fight against global poverty and hunger. Every day it saves lives and builds capacity for the future – making a real difference in the lives of millions. The programme is central to our foreign policy, has an enviable international reputation, and consistently enjoys strong political and public support.
Our Programme for Government contains a very clear commitment to Ireland’s aid programme, and to the UN target of providing 0.7% of Gross National Product (GNP) for Official Development Assistance (ODA). Last month, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Eamon Gilmore, again confirmed the Government’s commitment to the aid programme and to reaching the 0.7% UN target as soon as we possibly can.
Despite the enormously challenging budgetary environment the Government has managed to maintain Ireland’s ODA levels above 0.5% of GNP. For 2012, the Government has allocated €639 million to ODA which is expected to achieve an ODA/GNP percentage target of 0.51%. This is an important and significant achievement and a very clear indication of the Government’s commitment to the poor and hungry in the world. However the 0.7% target can only be achieved with the restoration of sustainable growth in the economy. This is the Government’s absolute priority and we are working extremely hard to achieve this goal.
The Government remains ambitious for, and committed to, Ireland’s overseas aid programme. We are determined to maintain and build on its high international reputation, and to ensure that it continues to build the foundation of real change, future prosperity and wellbeing in the lives of many of the world’s poorest people.