Enda Kenny promises 0.7% of GNP for overseas aid

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has pledged to allocate 0.7% of gross national product (GNP) to overseas development aid as part of a United Nations target.

Mr Kenny also told a gathering of world leaders in New York yesterday that Ireland would do its best to respond to the refugee crisis.

Addressing the UN summit on sustainable development in New York, Mr Kenny said Ireland’s development aid programme would remain central to Irish foreign policy.

He added: “On our small Atlantic island the Irish people carry the generational memory of occupation, of hunger, of conflict and of mass emigration.

“As a result of our history, we have a deep commitment to addressing suffering and hardship wherever they are found.”

World leaders at the summit agreed a new 15-year plan to eradicate extreme poverty, address climate change and a range of global issues.

Presidents, prime ministers, and diplomats from the UN’s 193 members stood and applauded loudly after General Assembly president Mogens Lykketoft announced the approval of the development roadmap.

Discussions on how to implement the new goals — expected to cost between $3.5trn and $5trn every year until 2030 — is expected to dominate the three-day summit that will include addresses by US president Barack Obama, China’s president Xi Jinping and the leaders of Egypt, India, Iran, Germany, Britain, and France.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon told the General Assembly that the test will be implementation, calling for action from all people, everywhere, and high-level political commitment.

Mr Kenny committed Ireland to continuing to invest in developing countries and through Irish Aid.

The aid budget fell by 30 % in recent years during the recession, having previously hit a high point of 0.59% of GNP or €920m in 2008.

Spending on overseas aid last year was just over €600m, which was below 0.4% of GNP.

Ahead of next month’s budget, Mr Kenny promised that Ireland would “work to achieve the UN 0.7% target for development assistance”. But he did not give a timelines to the commitment.

The non-binding goals agreed at the UN summit will succeed the Millennium Development Goals adopted by world leaders 15 years ago.

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