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New minister must prioritise fair and just recovery from COVID-19, says Trócaire

By Ann Marie Foley - 06 July, 2020

A microscopic image of COVID-19

Ireland has a vital role to play in helping with a fair and just recovery from the global COVID-19 crisis and this must be a priority for the new Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trócaire has stated.

Minister Colm Brophy will have responsibility for Ireland’s overseas aid budget and should use it to protect the rights of the poorest people in the world.

“This appointment comes at a crucial time. COVID-19 continues to spread at an alarming rate around the world, including in many countries lacking the basic healthcare capacity to tackle it. Global solidarity has never been needed more, so we were strongly encouraged by the Programme for Government’s commitment to protecting Ireland’s overseas aid budget,” said Caoimhe de Barra, CEO of Trócaire. “Minister Brophy has a vital role to play in ensuring Ireland continues on its path towards spending 0.7 per cent of national income on supporting the world’s poorest people.”

The new minister’s department is in charge of Official Development Assistance (ODA) which in Budget 2020 was allocated almost €838 million. This was an increase of almost €21 million on the 2019 allocation. In a question in the Dáil, Deputy Seán Haughey asked how the Government was progressing in achieving the 0.7 per cent target by 2030.

The then Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Ciarán Cannon, said that based on the Department of Finance Budget day forecast for GNI (Gross National Income) in 2020, it was expected that the ODA-GNI percentage would be approximately 0.31 per cent. That was before the election and the onset of COVID-19 and its consequences for the economy.

Speaking of the new reality and the minister’s responsibilities, Ms De Barra stated that until now the Government’s Irish Aid programme has been recognised as a global leader for the impact it has on supporting people in poorer countries. Minister Brophy can ensure Ireland continues to play a leading role on the world stage, she added.

Trócaire beneficiaries receiving supplies. Photo: Allan Gichigi.

“As Ireland prepares to take its seat on the UN Security Council, we will also have an enhanced role in helping the world respond to the climate crisis and the ongoing tragedy of war in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere,” she said.

When Ireland gained its place on the UN Security Council in June, Trócaire stated that the Irish values of peace, human rights and international cooperation will be a lifeline for people living in conflict and insecurity around the world.

“Ireland’s campaign was built on a solid platform of promoting human rights, climate action, gender equality and humanitarian support. Our actions now – domestically and at the UN Security Council – must be firmly rooted in that platform. Ireland can and must be a strong voice for the rights of people living in poverty,” said Ms de Barra.

She said that that the Programme for Government (of the newly-formed government) has committed to increasing its overseas aid budget and taking stronger climate action measures, which are fundamental to securing peace and prosperity around the world. She said the Government needs to follow through on meeting these commitments.

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