Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan Affirms Ireland's Commitment to Fight Global Poverty

Friday, 25 Mar 2011

By Martin Murphy
Epoch Times Staff Created: Mar 25, 2011 Last Updated: Mar 25, 2011

DUBLIN—The newly appointed Minister of State for Trade and Development, Jan O’Sullivan TD, confirmed her intent to fight global poverty when she stated this week that she was determined that the fight against poverty and hunger in the developing would be at the heart of Ireland’s foreign policy.

Minister O’Sullivan's comments came at a conference in Dublin on the future of development aid, ‘Leading Edge 2020’ which was organised by Trócaire.

“Our new Government is strongly committed to Ireland’s development programme. We were elected to lead the regeneration of Ireland’s economy and society, but not at the expense of those less fortunate than ourselves. We are determined that the fight against poverty, hunger and inequality in the world should be at the centre of Ireland’s foreign policy, as we work to rebuild our country’s international reputation,” said Minister O’Sullivan.

Those attending the event were assured that the new Government, which has stated in its programme for government that it is committed to the 0.7 per cent GNP contributory target, will seek to achieve this goal by 2015. “It is obvious to all that, in the current circumstances, this will be difficult to achieve.

This underlines the absolute importance of being able to demonstrate that all funding provided to partners under the aid programme is used in order to maximise the impact on poor people and communities,” she said.

Quantifying impact and the reduction of duplicated efforts were mentioned by the Minister when she talked about meeting the 'ambitious targets' that have been set. “Looking beyond 2015, we need to focus rigorously on how we can realistically achieve the ambition of ending the need for official development assistance, if not in our lifetimes, then in our children’s,” said Minister O’Sullivan.

With respect to recent global emergencies, Minister O’Sullivan said that they “rightly attract public attention. But we must also remember the millions of people who suffer daily from hunger and deprivation in developing countries.

“The Millennium Development Goals are focused on these people and their lives. They must remain at the forefront of our development policy as we approach 2015. We have a collective duty, as States and organisations, to redouble our efforts and to co-ordinate them for maximum impact in fighting poverty and hunger, promoting human and social development, and ensuring that poor people participate in and benefit from economic growth.”

In closing, the Minister said: “I am genuinely excited about the work which we face into, together, in the interests of creating a more equal world … Together, we can continue to shape and influence international thinking and good practice. This is an important role for Ireland on the world stage.”

Hans Zomer, Director of Dóchas, the association of Irish Non-Governmental Development Organisations, was at the conference and gave The Epoch Times his opinion on the Minister's statement.

“It was really positive - she stated that overseas aid is a core plank of Ireland's foreign policy, and it is a core value of us as a nation,” said Mr Zomer, who added that such comments were “phenomenal for us [non-governmental organisation's (NGO's)].”

He was also pleased to hear the Minister say that NGO's were an integral part of the solution.
“She really invited us to work in partnership, going forward … which is a really positive start from the new Minister,” said Mr Zomer. “The conference itself was very interesting as it provided a space for NGO's, academics, and people who work on poverty here and abroad to share experiences and explore the challenges they are facing.”

Mr Zomer was also pleased with what he described as “strong engagements” from senior civil servants in Irish Aid, the Irish Government’s programme of assistance to developing countries.

Leading Edge 2020

Extreme weather conditions will be a leading factor behind large-scale humanitarian disasters over the next decade, according to the new report issued by Trócaire.

The Leading Edge 2020 report into the future of international development has highlighted climate change as one of the five major issues facing development and aid agencies. The report, which is based on interviews with over 100 global experts, warns that an increase in large-scale humanitarian disasters as a result of climate change will lead to "a drain on resources and the goodwill of public donors, resulting in knock-on effects in other long term work areas."

The report was officially launched this week at the Leading Edge 2020 conference in Dublin city centre.


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