Oireachtas members continue to support Overseas Aid

02/02/2012 at 4:03 pm 1 comment

Earlier this month, the Government launched its public consultation on the future of Ireland’s overseas aid programme.

In the consultation paper produced for the occasion, Irish Aid state that “there is good cross party political support and high levels of public support for overseas aid expenditure.”

This is undoubtedly true. Even in the midst of the economic crisis that grips Ireland, the Government have held the budget for overseas aid steady at 0.5% of national income, and opinion polls continue to show overwhelming public support for Ireland’s aid programme.

(see also this really interesting short video)

Another measure of political support for overseas aid is the frequency with which our politicians use their speaking time in the Oireachtas to raise issues relating to development cooperation.

Dóchas research in this area shows that during 2011, 37 TDs asked parliamentary questions about development, including 10 TDs who asked specifically about Ireland’s 0.7% target.

On 56 separate occasions in the past year was the issue of “Overseas Aid” discussed in either the Dáil, the Seanad, or in parliamentary questions. The equivalent statistic for “Irish Aid” was 127 (of which 96 through written questions).

Most interestingly, Dóchas’ research shows that this is part of a growing trend of greater parliamentary involvement with development cooperation.

Key word analysis of all Oireachtas debates since 1974 (the beginning of Ireland’s development cooperation programme) shows a steady increase in the number of times Deputies and Senators speak about overseas aid.

(Note the peaks at the time of the Make Poverty History campaign, and the 2009 cuts to the ODA budget)

We conclude that this is hugely positive. As we engage in the public debate about the future of Ireland’s aid programme, we now know that this is not taking place in isolation, but on the back of growing political engagement in this key area of Ireland’s foreign policy.

(And for those who love graphics: here are the stats about the frequency in which TDs and Senators talked about Dóchas. As with the graph above, these stats are taken from http://www.oireachtas.ie and http://www.kildarestreet.com, and refer to debates in the Dáil, the Seanad or Oireachtas Committees, and exclude written questions)

 

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