Ireland’s aid programme prioritises the fight against global poverty and hunger. It is strongly focused on the poorest countries and communities in sub-Saharan Africa, prioritising investments in the areas of education, health, good governance, food security and nutrition. The programme is central to our foreign policy, has an enviable international reputation, and consistently enjoys strong political and public support.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - the framework for international development policy up to 2015 - are central to Ireland’s overseas development programme, and to the Government’s development policy. Globally, the incidence of poverty is reducing, and it is likely that the first Millennium Development Goal – to halve world poverty by 2015 – will be met. International aid has played a hugely important part in contributing to this progress.
A review of the White Paper on Irish Aid was undertaken in 2012 to ensure that Ireland’s aid programme remains relevant to changing circumstances both in Ireland and in our partner countries, and that the high standards for which the Irish Aid is renowned, are maintained into the future. A revised policy on international development will be launched by the Government early in the New Year.
For 2012, the Government provided some €639 million in total Official Development Assistance (ODA). In 2013, it is anticipated that ODA will amount to €623 million, a modest reduction on the 2012 level. Stabilising the ODA budget has been an important and significant achievement for this Government, particularly in light of the extraordinarily difficult economic conditions facing the country.
The 2013 allocation to ODA is a clear indication of our commitment to the aid programme. I want to reiterate that this Government remains committed to achieving the UN target of 0.7% of GNP. However, as I have stated on many occasions in the past, credible progress towards achieving the UN target can only be made through restoring sustainable growth in the economy.