Irish support for overseas aid falters

Friday, 23 Dec 2011

Fewer than half of Irish people believe the Government should increase overseas aid to developing countries, a new survey suggests.

The latest Eurobarometer poll on Irish attitudes to development aid found that the public's support for aid to people in developing countries is down 10 per cent since last year.

The survey was carried out in September, several weeks before the Government announced a cut of €52.9 million in overseas aid as part of  Budget 2012.

When asked whether the Government’s promise of increasing assistance to developing countries to 0.7 per cent of gross national income by 2015 should be kept or aid increased further, support dropped by 10 per cent to 49 per cent, putting Ireland below the EU average of 62 per cent.

While 85 per cent of respondents consider it “very important” or “fairly important” to help developing countries, this represents a drop of 10 per cent since the last survey in 2010.

Some 23 per cent of Irish respondents said aid should not be increased, representing an increase of 3 per cent since the last survey and well above the EU average of 14 per cent.

A further 22 per cent said aid should be reduced as Ireland can no longer afford it, an increase of 7 per cent on last year and above the EU average of 18 per cent.

The Government is expected to complete a comprehensive review of its overseas development aid policy by July next year.

According to the 2010 annual report of Irish Aid, Ireland’s overseas aid contribution of €675 million last year represented a drop for a third year in a row as a percentage of GNP.

The contribution, which is 0.53 per cent of GNP, represents a fall from 0.59 per cent in 2008 and 0.55 per cent in 2009. The 2011 budget is expected to be €659 million, a drop of €16 million on 2010 and a reduction to 0.52 per cent of GNP.

The special Eurobarometer Making a difference in the world: Europeans and the future of development aid  survey was carried out in the 27 EU member states in September. A total of 26,856 people aged 15 or over were interviewed in person.

In Ireland, 1,015 people were interviewed by Ipsos MRBI.

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