UN Aid official calls on Government to honour promise

UN Aid official calls on Government to honour promise

29 April 2010

The Director of the United Nations Millennium Campaign, Salil Shetty, was in Dublin yesterday where he met with a number of groups including the government’s aid wing, Irish Aid and the Joint Foreign Affairs Committee.  He also met privately with Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan.

Mr. Shetty was the special guest at an event at The Westin Hotel, organised by the children’s development charity Plan Ireland, to ascertain if progress had been made on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In September 2000 189 countries signed up to achieve the eight goals.  Other speakers at the event included Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan TD and David Dalton, CEO of Plan Ireland.  Dalton implored the Minister not to implement further cuts to Ireland’s overseas aid spend.

I urge the government to preserve the aid budget and to commit to achieving the 0.7% target by 2015.  If Ireland could achieve this we’d place the Irish nation, once again, to the fore of international development cooperation,” said David Dalton.

Currently, Ireland is the seventh most generous donor per capita in the world, though our generosity has faltered somewhat in recent years.  In order to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals it is vital to maintain our aid contributions and to deliver on the international target of 0.7% of gross national income.  Ireland has failed, twice, to meet this target. 

Commenting on this Minister Lenihan stated:  “The last two years have been undeniably difficult in economic and financial terms.  The adjustments made to the public finances affected every area of expenditure, including our overseas development funding.  This was one of the most difficult decisions the Government had to make.”

The Minister did reason why Ireland’s overseas aid support should be maintained: “We are still a wealthy country”, he said, “and we have a moral obligation to help those who are much less fortunate.”

Salil Shetty felt that the aid campaign had the support of the Irish people: “The long-standing solidarity of the people of Ireland with the developing world, particularly Africa, is the envy of many other developed nations.    With five years to go to realise the Millennium Development Goals and the upcoming UN Summit to review progress in New York, the international community and the Irish people will look to the Government in Ireland to regain its pride of place by reconsidering the drastic cut in foreign aid.”

He conceded that much progress had yet to be made particularly in infant and child mortality but there had been good progress in primary education, tackling HIV and providing access to water.

The UN set out to achieve the MDGs by 2015 in response to the world's main development challenges. The MDGs are drawn from the actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by 189 nations-and signed by 147 heads of state and governments during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000.

The eight goals are to:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a Global Partnership for Development