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Catholic ethos may be holding back Ireland’s overseas aid policy

One of the leaders of Easter Rising from Dun Laoghaire was Roger Casement who had studied and reported on the conditions in Congo and in the Amazon region when he wrote to his friend Edmond Morel affirming that: “Tackling Leopold in Africa has set in motion a big movement -- it must be a movement of human liberation all the world over”.

It is difficult to dismiss the probability that the policy of the Irish Aid and the NGOs it funds is influenced and constrained by the Catholic ethos. How else can their lack of concrete, practical support for population planning policy be explained?

This Catholic ethos seems to govern policy of The Development Corporation Division (DCD), one of the 11 divisions within the Department of Foreign Affairs which is responsible for administering Ireland’s overseas aid programme, and it allocates up to 50% of the total aid budget.

In July 2012, the London Family Planning Summit was held.

This was a major international conference co-hosted by the UK Government’s department for international Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other partners.

The summit was attended by 30 developing countries, 40 donor countries, international agencies such as the World Bank, WHO, and UNICEF, and civil society organisations amounting to 250 delegates.

There was not a single representative from the Irish Government, or from any Irish state agencies, in attendance.

Instead the Minister accompanied by teams of advisors from Dublin and New York attended another conference in Rio de Janeiro.

A press release issued after the London summit stated: “It is estimated that by 2020, the collective efforts announced at the summit will result in 200,000 fewer women dying in pregnancy and childbirth, more than 110,000 million fewer unintended pregnancies, over 50 million fewer abortions, and nearly three million fewer babies dying in their first year of life”.

In his address to the summit, the British Prime Minister David Cameron stated: “Giving women the freedom to choose when and how many children they have is fundamental in tackling global poverty. A country cannot develop properly when its young women are dying from unintended pregnancies and when its children are dying in infancy.”

Such a decision can only be made by Irish voters.

Cartan Finegan
Belmont Hse, Galloping Green,
Stillogran, Co Dublin

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