Ireland’s Foreign Minister says country must use its wealth to ease ‘suffering’ across the world
Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said €1.22 billion will be spent on overseas development aid next year.
The report says supporting global access to vaccines, responding to complex humanitarian crises, and committing to more than doubling climate change finance were among the key achievements of Ireland’s overseas development assistance (ODA) programme in 2021.
Ireland spent €967 million on overseas development assistance last year, up from €868 million in 2020.
It surpasses the previous high of €921 million in 2008 – the year Ireland’s banking and property crash began.
“We cannot have a situation where we wait until we have famine on the scale of what we saw in Ethiopia in the Bob Geldof era in the late 1980s.”
Mr Coveney said: “Despite all of the pressures we do face domestically from cost of living the Government is giving a very strong statement that we are serious about sharing Ireland’s wealth with other parts of the world that desperately need our partnership, our knowledge and our financial resources.
“The need is stronger than I can ever remember in my 25 years in politics.
“If you look at the Horn of Africa at the moment, tittering on the brink of famine with millions of people potentially at risk of starvation or malnutrition we’re putting tens of millions of euro directly into trying to prevent that.
“If you look at the climate emergency that continues, Ireland has committed to spending 225 million euro a year every year in relation to climate finance.
“A big focus on adaptation as well as mitigation in that spend.
“Our department will spend an extra €25 million on climate (change) finance next year.”
The 2021 report Ireland contributed €92 million to climate (change) finance last year and committed to increase that figure to €225 million a year by 2025.
It said Ireland pledged five million vaccines to people in low income countries and to provide €8.5 million to Covax to support vaccine procurement and administration.
Ireland’s first vaccine donation was in September 2021 when 335,000 vaccines were delivered to Uganda. Further quantities were delivered to Nigeria, Ghana and Indonesia.
Almost €230 million was spent responding to humanitarian disasters in 2021, including those caused by conflict and climate change.
Mr Coveney said: “It’s been an extraordinary period in terms of instability across the globe and the human cost of that, most recently from the illegal and brutal war in Ukraine, which is having an impact right across the world.
“We are seeing extraordinary suffering and Ireland as a wealthy country has got to share that wealth.
“That’s what we’re committing to do from this year into next, spending close on an extra 180 million euro, spending 1.22 billion euro of Irish taxpayers’ money on partnerships and support structures and in some cases just direct assistance to keep people alive.
“And Irish people, I hope, will be proud and supportive of those political decisions.”
Junior Minister for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora Colm Brophy said there is a “moral obligation” on countries like Ireland, who come from a prosperous background, to be willing “to help those who have nothing” in other countries.
He said the people in the Horn of Africa are on the verge of “cataclysmic famine” and that he saw “first-hand the most harrowing scenes” when he visited the region in recent weeks.
“The Irish government has stepped up and it has been to the front in providing funding and support to the wonderful NGOs on the ground,” he said.
“We’ve worked in close partnership with US aid and Samantha Power who have also been very heavily involved in supporting the Horn of Africa and resources going there.
“If you look at the climate emergency that continues, Ireland has committed to spending 225 million euro a year every year in relation to climate finance.”
“But more countries need to get involved.
“We cannot have a situation where we wait until we have famine on the scale of what we saw in Ethiopia in the Bob Geldof era in the late 1980s.
“We can’t wait for that.
“We need to intervene now.”