Ireland has a long tradition of solidarity with the world’s poor people and nations. For reasons of history and morality – as well as enlightened self-interest – we have built up a national aid programme that assists victims of disasters, and helps reduce countries’ vulnerability to future disasters.
And never before was our aid needed so much. Never before have poor people been confronted with a combination of global economic turmoil, food price hikes, and massive natural disasters as witnessed in Haiti, Niger and Pakistan. For the first time in history, one billion people – almost one in six people on the planet – are going hungry every day.
Our aid programme is tangible proof that people in Ireland continue to understand the needs of the world’s poorest communities. Our experience with famine on this island, which at the time was ignored by most of the international community, means that we refuse to remain indifferent in the face of human suffering.
And we come to the aid of people everywhere, regardless of race, religion or status. Our common humanity demands it.
We cannot ignore the plight of the people of Pakistan, a country whose infrastructure has been destroyed and where millions of people have lost their homes and livelihoods. We cannot turn our backs on people in their hour of need. And we cannot row back on our promise to be a caring part of the international community.
We should, we need to and we can provide assistance to the world’s poorest people and countries.
And we are proud to do so.