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We still care: one year on

The issue of Ireland’s aid cuts is on the agenda again. As we plan our campaign to ensure there are no more cuts to the aid budget, it’s useful to look back on last year’s campaign.

Last year saw a dramatic reversal of fortunes for the Irish economy. As the country entered recession for the first time since 1982, the Celtic Tiger faded to a distant memory. And as the government began cutting budgets, overseas aid was first in line. Five cuts later, the aid budget has shrunk by a massive 24%. 

Protecting the most vulnerable

The impact on Concern and the people we work with has been huge. We’ve had to make some painful decisions, withdrawing from four countries, cutting 20 programmes and making over 500 staff redundant. Enormous effort was made to protect the most vulnerable. The scale of the cuts made that task extremely difficult.

Last year’s campaign

Out of the crisis came a growing number of voices saying “stop – no more aid cuts!” 6,500 people joined the nationwide “We Don’t Care Less” campaign, showing the government that, despite the hard times here, Irish people still care about those who live in absolute poverty. We still care about those with nothing to eat, nowhere to sleep, with no health or education, no dole – people whose voices are silenced.  Ireland has a long and strong tradition of solidarity with the very poorest of our world. This campaign proved that – it showed that we do care. Budget 2010 did bring another cut but without your support, things could have been far worse. 

The next phase

This year, our efforts have to continue. The next phase of our campaign is calling on the government to “Act Now on 2015”.

Twice before, the Irish government set a deadline to reach the international target of giving 0.7% of our national income to overseas aid. And twice before, the deadline was moved. In December, a third deadline of 2015 was announced. We have to ensure this third promise is honoured.

If you’re not already a member, please join our campaign, make your voice heard, protect the very poorest of our world and protect Ireland’s international reputation as a country which really does care.