Charity begins at home, but Irish people don’t want it to end there.
A recent opinion poll, commissioned by Dóchas and undertaken by Ipsos MRBI shows that people in Ireland overwhelmingly support the Government’s aid promises to the world’s poorest people.
The survey found that 81 percent of respondents agreed it was important for Ireland’s reputation that the Government delivered on its aid promises of spending 0.7 percent of national income on overseas aid by 2015 at the latest.
The poll results provide a powerful response to those who argue that Ireland’s current financial difficulties mean that we can no longer afford overseas aid.
First of all, Ireland spends a lot less on overseas aid than we think: the opinion poll revealed that most people think we spend between 2 and 10 percent of national income on aid, whereas the real figure is 0.54% – or just 54 cent in every 100 euro.
Secondly, the poll counters the ‘charity begins at home’ slogan, by showing that even those people in Ireland who feel the impact of the economic crisis most, and who are unemployed themselves, continue to support Government funding of overseas aid.
The poll revealed that across the country, and across age groups and social strata, the vast majority of people feel that Ireland has an obligation to assist those who are much less fortunate than we are, and that we must deliver on our aid promise.
Ireland has committed – as recently as December last year – to spend 0.7% of our gross national income (GNI) on overseas development aid by 2015.
This commitment has received cross-party support in the Dáil, and clearly enjoys public support as well. Irish aid agencies have welcomed the results of the poll, pointing to the fact that – even in an economic downturn – people in Ireland believe that the economic crisis shouldn’t be a reason for us to turn our back on the world’s poorest people.
Ireland made promises to the world’s poorest people, and built a global reputation on the strength of those promises, and we know that that is exactly what people in Ireland want to see happen.
At the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, the then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern committed Ireland to meeting the UN target for spending 0.7 per cent of national income on overseas aid by 2007.
Since then the Government has twice revised the date for achieving that goal, and now says its aim is to reach the UN target by 2015.