Sinn Féin urges Government to match Irish people,s donations for tsunami disaster relief
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on International Affairs Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has welcomed Minister Dermot Ahern's announcement that the Government will increase its tsunami humanitarian aid commitment to €20 million, but is urging him to match the Irish people's out-of-pocket donations, running at €40 million to date, which he characterised as "a source of national pride".
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
"The Irish people's generosity and spirit of solidarity is a source of national pride. Sinn Féin activists across the island have been organising or participating in tsunami relief fundraising efforts in their local areas, and I commend them also.
"While I welcome the Minister‚s announcement that the Government will double its tsunami relief commitment to €20 million, I would like to see the Government pledge to at least match what the Irish people themselves raise. After all, this is the second wealthiest state in the EU and the fourth wealthiest state in the world.
"As the UN has stipulated, the Government's commitment must be additional, paid in cash and quickly. Now that the Minister has returned from his fact-finding and consultations in the region and his meetings with the UN and EU partners, I call on him to publicly clarify how and when this will be done.
"We mourn for the 150,000 who lost their lives and extend condolence to their families. The 5 million survivors in the 12 affected countries who now lack the basics of life such as food, water and shelter must receive relief on the basis of need without discrimination. Equally, aid must not be used as a tool of counterinsurgency against affected populations in conflict zones. To this end, Sinn Féin welcomes the UN's formal coordinating role in relief operations.
"Sinn Féin supports the contribution of Irish military assets for humanitarian relief in response to UN requests, and their deployment under the leadership of the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator in cooperation with the tsunami affected Governments."
Deputy Ó Snodaigh added:
"Emergency disaster relief and freezing the $272 billion in debt owed by these countries are not enough. Ireland must ensure that the reconstruction provides for the long-term development needs of the affected regions, and includes participation by the local communities affected in formulating their future. The Indian Ocean disaster has highlighted the urgency of the related issues of debt cancellation and the need for fair trade rules, as well as meeting the UN Official Development Assistance target of 0.7% GNP by 2007, and I endorse the priorities for post-tsunami action identified by Oxfam. I urge the Government to provide global leadership on these issues, starting with an announcement that it has resumed its commitment to meeting the UN ODA target by increasing the ODA spend for 2005 to 0.5%." ENDS