Irish NGOs Say Budget Cuts Will Cost Lives

Overseas development organisations have reacted with outrage at the slashing of the foreign aid budget by a further €100 million. This latest cut in overseas aid is the fourth in just over 10 months. €95 million was cut in February 2009, €15 million in October 2008 and €45 million in July 2008.

Yesterday’s cut, together with February’s cut, represents 22% of the 2009 overseas development aid budget as published by the government in October 2008.

Justin Kilcullen, director of Trocaire, said that, “These additional cuts are based on political expediency by a Government that sees aid as a soft target. The impact these cuts will have is unacceptable.” He called on the Government to explain how it now intends to reach the UN target of spending 0.7 per cent of gross national product on overseas aid by 2012.

“To cut overseas aid on this scale is hugely disproportionate,” said Tom Arnold, CEO of Concern. “It seriously undermines our international reputation for our sense of fairness, justice and solidarity.”
GOAL, the International Humanitarian Agency, said that the latest round of funding cuts from the aid budget could lead directly to the death of thousands of people. John O’Shea, CEO of GOAL, said that, “It’s a bad day for the poor and it’s a bad day for the reputation of the Irish Government as a caring entity.”

Hans Zomer, director of Dóchas, an umbrella group comprising almost 40 Irish development organisations, said, “Despite what the Government says, such cuts are well beyond what would be fair, proportionate or just.”

In a statement, Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin and Minister of State for Overseas Development Peter Power insisted that the Irish Government is committed to resuming the expansion of the aid programme as soon as is economically feasible. However, they also admitted that the latest round of cuts would make reaching the 2012 UN target more difficult.