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Only numbers that count are lives

A combination of five aid cuts in just over a year and the surprise breaking of Ireland’s UN commitment date “will have serious ramifications for the poorest and most vulnerable in our world and for our international reputation,” according to Derek McDowell, Head of Advocacy at Concern.

A massive blow

The Irish government announced that it will break its solemn commitment to the UN to give 0.7% of its GNP to overseas aid by 2012. That date has now been rolled out to 2015.

This amendment is in addition to a cut of €25 million in next year’s funding. According to Derek:

If the government’s new promise is to mean anything, it needs to be accompanied by a credible, legally binding set of interim commitments. We also need assurances on how the human impact of these latest cuts is to be minimised.

Major cuts

Prior to today’s budget, overseas aid had already taken a 24% cut in government funding in just over a year.

Concern itself has made over 500 staff redundant in that time, resulting in the closure or suspension of programmes across 20 countries. This will have an impact on the very poorest people, making them more vulnerable to hunger, malnutrition, global recession and climate change.

Lives count

According to Derek, “the only numbers that ultimately count are lives.”

We live in unprecedented times and we are acutely aware of the huge challenges facing this country and the poorest and most vulnerable people in Ireland. We must not let them down, but neither must we forget the one billion people in developing countries who are going hungry every day with no social welfare or other ‘safety nets’, and with the looming threat of malnutrition and often death by starvation facing them.

The Irish public have been compassionate historically, even in the worst of times here at home, so it is all the more disappointing, then, that we have today’s ‘double-whammy’ in the latest government budget.

We appreciate the efforts of many politicians of all parties who tried to ensure that we stick to our solemn commitment to the international community. It is regrettable that those efforts have fallen on deaf ears.

This will surely damage our international reputation as a country that stands up for the poorest in our world in the toughest of times and, indeed, that keeps to its promises.

For media  

  • Contact Derek McDowell, spokesperson and Head of Advocacy at Concern: ++353 1 417 7782
  • Paul O’Mahony, Communications Officer: ++353 1 479 1390