Eight out of ten Irish back overseas aid

A growing number of Irish citizens believe the Government can and should deliver on its overseas aid obligations.

In the survey, commissioned by Dóchas, the umbrella body of Ireland’s Development NGOs, eight out of 10 Irish people wanted the Government to fulfill its overseas aid commitment, 79% in this survey versus 75% last year.

However, the survey also found that the Irish public hugely overestimates the amount the Government spends on overseas aid, with some respondents believing as much as 9% of national income is contributed, far higher than the actual figure of 0.39%.

When asked what an appropriate level of spending would be, most respondents among the 1,000 plus adults questioned said that the country should spend 9.5% of national income on overseas aid. Pollsters Ipsos MRBI said these responses were in line with answers given in previous surveys.

Asked in the specific context of the economic downturn, during which Ireland’s level of overseas aid did fall, and asked if the Government should keep to its commitment to build up its overseas aid contribution to 0.7% of national income, 79% agreed.

Director of Dóchas Hans Zomer said: “This survey shows once again that people in Ireland want our country to do the right thing.

"There is strong public support for Ireland’s overseas aid programme and for the principle that, no matter what happens here at home, we have a duty to our fellow human beings who are in need of support and protection.

“This research provides an important reminder to the Government as it prepares Budget 2016 that people in Ireland believe we have an obligation to help those less fortunate than us.

"This is not about feeling good about ourselves; this is about keeping our promise to the world.”

The survey comes amid growing public anger over the plight of refugees fleeing the crisis in Syria and elsewhere and calls for more to be done to help.

Junior Minister Aodháin Ó’Ríordáin said the number of refugees coming to Ireland “must and will increase”.

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