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Official Development Aid commitments better late than never

24 November, 2006

Questioning the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Dáil yesterday evening, on the government's Official Development Assistance commitments, Sinn Féin's International Affairs spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD welcomed the increase in aid but described it as "a case of better late than never."

He said, "I welcome the increase in the overseas development aid in the Estimates. However, it is more a case of better late than never. As the Minister of State stated, the Government originally promised to achieve the 0.7% target by 2007. An extra €300 million would have allowed us to reach that original ODA target.

"Will the increase of 0.04% per annum, required for the next five years to reach the 0.7% target, be achieved? Will the Minister of State introduce legislation to safeguard that commitment? We do not know who will be the Minister with responsibility in this area after the next election. He or she could renege on that commitment, which was made on behalf of the people. Will the Minister ensure there is not another U-turn on this matter?"

Speaking afterwards Aengus said, "As Minister Ahern acknowledged himself last night, by saying that when he took his office he decided to reframe the ODA targets, the Irish people's promise to the worlds poorest could easily be broken again. I regret Dermot Ahern's refusal to offer any guarantee mechanism for the current ODA commitment." ENDS

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