Why Ireland invests in overseas aid

18/05/2012 at 1:02 pm 2 comments

To anyone wondering why Ireland continues to spend money on overseas aid:
Take your pick from these quotes from the last week:

At the National Famine Commemoration event in Drogheda Taoiseach Enda Kenny said:

(13 May)

  • The legacy of the Famine is that we bear witness. When we see human suffering, we don’t linger behind the scenes and depend on anonymous process. … For us, food security, humanitarian aid are not just political matters. We make them our personal business because they run so deep in the Irish heart, the Irish experience, the Irish psyche.
  • In addition to addressing the immediate needs of those who are victims of natural and manmade disasters, Ireland is also working to address the root causes of hunger and  has become a leading global advocate in the fight against hunger.
  • It is vital that through remembering and honouring the victims of our own Great Hunger we strive to ensure food, dignity, opportunity – humanity itself – for all peoples in all parts of the world where starvation and under-nutrition exist, whether as a fact or a possibility. Both as a fact and a possibility. This is one way our National Famine Commemoration is part of a global agenda.

The Taoiseach also highlighted one of the aspects of the Irish Famine, the best and “worst of humanity”:

  • Men and women who gave when they had nothing. Those with plenty who, for whatever reason – too much fear, too much shame, or too little compassion – did not.

At the Concern 1,000 Days event, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, said:

(16 May 2012)

  • We ask today why so little was done by the wealthy and well fed to assist the victims of the Irish Famine.  And we are determined that the Irish people can never be accused of such indifference.
  • Irish people have shown, by their generosity, time and time again that the plight of the poorest and most vulnerable is not something that we will ignore – even during difficult times at home.
  • We understand how modern famine affects nations in Africa and elsewhere. Beyond the profound personal consequences of hunger, it drives mass movements of population, it affects economic growth and development and it is impacting on international stability and global prosperity.
  • Ireland’s economic reputation may have been tarnished in recent years; however, the fundamental values of our society – represented by our aid programme – have not been questioned, and are contributing to our efforts to rebuild our reputation overseas.
  • It is said that more food will have to be produced over the next 50 years than has been during the past 10,000 years combined.  This is clearly not only a development challenge; it is one of the defining global challenges facing the international community; one that has the potential to impact on relations between states and on international peace and security.
  • International action to combat hunger is, and will continue to be, a key priority for this Government.
  • Ireland’s approach to hunger exemplifies the interconnectedness of development assistance and foreign policy.

Further reading:

–       Famine should no longer be in our vocabulary (Irish Times)

–       Time to remember the politics of Hunger

–       Lessons learned from responding to Droughts

–       Hunger, a political problem that CAN be solved





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Rio+20 – A Time To Move Forward Aid Myths Busted

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. R Storey  |  18/05/2012 at 1:24 pm

    The generosity of Irish people is beyond question. The problem comes when that generosity is exploited by the failures to use public and private aid money properly and with transparency and accountability.
    There is no evidence that Irish Aid or NGOs are providing value for money in the aid provided and their “trust me” approach to accountability is way out of date.
    Operational and administrative standards should be a pre-requisite to Irish Aid support of NGOs and Dochas should be given a monitoring role rather than the cajoling role requesting NGOs to be self-regulatory.

    • 2. Dóchas  |  18/05/2012 at 1:36 pm

      Robert, while we share your view that NGO accountability needs constant improvement, I feel confident that both Dóchas’ accountability mechanisms and Irish Aid’s funding requirements – standards currently being applied – exceed your expectations.

      The key to greater accountability of NGOs, not just in the overseas sector, but across the board – lies in greater scrutiny by members of the public. Hence: https://dochasnetwork.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/key-questions-to-ask-any-charity/

      We’d, of course, welcome workable and practical suggestions on how we can improve! For you are right: NGOs must strive to ever higher standards of impact, accountability and efficacy.



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