In response to Finance Minister Brian Lenihan’s Budget speech, Dóchas – the umbrella group of Ireland’s Development NGOs – expressed disappointment at the Government’s decision to cut the overseas aid budget even further. “Once again, the poorest people on earth have been hit hard. Today’s announcement of €25 million worth of cuts to the aid budget comes on top of a massive 24% cut in 2009 – cuts that have meant severe hardship for countless poor people”, said Hans Zomer, Director of Dóchas, which unites 44 Irish aid agencies and Development NGOs” “It is time we recognise that the world’s poorest people cannot afford further cuts” added Zomer. The aid agencies commented that Ireland’s credibility abroad was dented severely by the second failure to achieve the aid target date. “Twice we promised ‘solemnly’ to achieve the UN 0.7% target, and twice we have failed to achieve it by the date we set for ourselves. It does raise serious questions about the credibility of this new aid promise. At a minimum, to restore credibility, the Government needs to copperfasten this commitment in legislation, and announce real and practical steps to restore the aid programme” said Hans Zomer on behalf of the 44 members of Dóchas. “We will be seeking an urgent meeting with Minister Power, to seek clarification about the government’s commitment to its international obligations, as we do not want Ireland to renege on its promises to the poorest people on earth”, added Zomer.