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Cross-party call to halt aid cuts

A group of 30 TDs and senators have called on the government not to cut the overseas aid budget any further.

Concern and Trócaire have welcomed this cross-party statement. We are now calling on Taoiseach Brian Cowen to heed this call and ensure overseas aid is protected in December’s budget.

Life and death

Speaking in response to the statement, Justin Kilcullen, Director of Trócaire, said:

Cuts to the aid budget can mean the difference between life and death for people already living on the edge. The government must listen to these calls from within their own party and across all the political parties in the Dáil.

Heartbreaking decisions

Tom Arnold, Concern’s CEO, also welcomed the “unity of purpose and political leadership shown by those who signed this cross party statement.” He went on to say:

The 24% cut in the aid budget has forced Concern to make heartbreaking decisions – to close a HIV project that would have reached 2,000 orphaned children in Zambia; to cancel a project to deliver water, food, cattle and medicines to 40,000 people in Kenya; to suspend a nutrition programme intended to reach 35,000 slum children and 25,000 pregnant women in Bangladesh.

Devastating impact

The aid budget represents less than one percent of overall projected government spending for this year. Further cuts to such a small portion of our spending will have a very limited impact on our financial stability here in Ireland. But this will have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable people in the developing world.

International reputation

The statement also makes the point that Ireland’s international reputation is on the line. We made a promise in 2000 to reach the UN target of giving just 0.7% of our national income in overseas aid by 2007. Five years later, we broke that promise and re-set the target to 2012.

In the interests of the very poorest people in our world, let us not break our promise made in front of the international community again.