Government should keep promise on overseas aid, says survey

Tuesday, 11 Sep 2012

Mary Fitzgerald, The Irish Times

THE IRISH public holds often contradictory views towards funding for overseas aid, a new survey has found. While most respondents to the survey agree the Government should keep its promise to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on aid by 2015, a smaller majority believes the current budget of €639 million is not acceptable in the face of cuts to public services at home.

The findings were contained in an Ipsos MRBI poll commissioned by Dóchas, an umbrella group of more than 40 development organisations. They echo previous surveys which revealed a widespread perception that the percentage of Government spending on overseas aid is much higher than it is.

The overseas aid budget has been cut by over 30 per cent since 2008 and has fallen in percentage terms of national income year-on-year from 0.52 per cent in 2010 to 0.51 per cent in 2011 and 0.5 per cent this year.

Some 80 per cent of respondents to the survey agreed it was important for Ireland’s international reputation that the Government kept its pledge to allocate 0.7 per cent of national income to overseas aid by 2015.

“This result shows that, despite continued economic difficulties, the Irish public’s support for international development co-operation has remained resolute,” said Hans Zomer, director of Dóchas.

“There has been very little change over the last three years in this very high level of public support: only a 2 per cent differential between the results for 2010 (81 per cent), 2011 (79 per cent) and 2012 (80 per cent).”

But the same survey found that 54 per cent answered “No” when asked if the Government should invest more than €600 million on overseas aid “when we are cutting back on public services such as healthcare”.

A total of 43 per cent were in favour.

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