A commitment abandoned?

05 March 2014

As many of you will know, Joe Costello, the Minister for Trade and Development, has admitted that Ireland will not keep its commitment to meet the UN target on overseas aid. That commitment, made earlier this century, was that this country would donate 0.7% of its income to overseas development aid (ODA) by 2015. However, this sad development has not been widely reported.

Therefore, if you, like us, care about Ireland’s aid commitment, please let your elected representatives know. You can also tweet the Minister @joecostelloTD and email him at joe.costello@oireachtas.ie.

And do also tell your fellow members of the public. Many may not see the importance of this news. For them, you might care to repeat the arguments we and other Irish development organisations have been making for quite some time. Firstly, aid doesn't just support the poorest people in the world. It also supports long-term development. It helps, in other words, to break the cycles that keep people and communities poor. But it isn’t just good for others. It is good for Ireland.

Aid supports the education of people in Ireland about what we can do to tackle the root causes of injustice and inequality. Abandoning our aid commitments risks undoing all the progress that has been made to create a more just and sustainable future for everyone.

It’s also worth remembering that Ireland has historically been seen as a leader on the global stage in the area of overseas development — and that aid is supported both here and abroad.

Public opinion surveys show that 83 per cent of EU citizens support ODA and want their governments to keep their aid promises.

Remember, the Irish commitment is a percentage target, not a specific sum of money. The actual amount declines if the economy is performing badly and rises if it is performing well. In that sense, it can be more affordable than a defined amount. But this also means that a lower percentage could imply a doubly diminished contribution during an economic downturn. Which is why we want the government to sustain Ireland’s positive international status and outline a new timeline for reaching the 0.7% target.

Ireland made a commitment. We hope you can join us in asking that Ireland stick to it.