As the Taoiseach will be aware, the main issue to dominate tomorrow's G8 summit in Scotland will be the effort to solve the plight of the people of Africa. It is worth bearing in mind that, in every ten minutes we speak in the House today, 60 children will have died of a vaccine-preventable illness and 80 babies under a month will die worldwide. A woman in the developing world will die every second in childbirth. Every 30 seconds a child dies of malaria. Six thousand people will die today from an AIDS-related illness. By the end of this year, just like every year, whooping cough will have killed 300,000 children, and diarrhoea will have killed 600,000 more under the age of five.
The Taoiseach and his Government obviously cannot prevent these tragedies from occurring. However, I am annoyed that in September 2000, with no election in sight, he made a solemn commitment to the UN Assembly, before the eyes of the world, that the Government would achieve the UN target of 0.7% of GDP by 2007. He made this commitment based on the information available to him with the consent of his Government and on behalf of the people of Ireland. When it became politically expedient for the Government to break that promise, it did so.
This country can be very proud of the outstanding work done by our NGOs which dispense aid all over the world. It is a pity that our reputation in the eyes of the world is now being besmirched by the fact the Taoiseach broke the promise he made on behalf of the people and the Government. Some time ago, he stated in the House that his job was to answer questions when asked. In light of this, let me ask him a question now: when will this Government achieve the Taoiseach's commitment to donate 0.7% of GDP in overseas development aid? Why has he postponed making a decision on this matter until some time before September, at which time the House will not be sitting and at which time there will be no opportunity to raise these matters with him? If the Taoiseach's job is to answer questions, he should state when the Government will make this announcement.