Wednesday 28 June 2017

Taoiseach pledges extra money for UN development fund

The Taoiseach addresses the UN
The Taoiseach addresses the UN
Colombian singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Shakira sings at the opening of the UN Sustainable Development Summit 2015 in New York
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been called on to stand over his commitment to drastically increase the amount of development aid Ireland gives to third world countries.

Mr Kenny pledged to contribute more money to the United Nations development aid fund at a landmark summit of world leaders in New York.

Speaking after a historic address by Pope Francis to the UN General Assembly, the Taoiseach said Ireland would strive to meet overseas aid funding targets which could cost more than €1bn a year.

The UN's official development assistance fund asks for member states to contribute 0.7pc of their national income.

The Coalition spent €3bn in foreign aid since taking office, with some €600m spent this year - but it is below the 0.7pc target.

Speaking after his address, the Taoiseach said he would not set a date for reaching the target but said the process will begin in the forthcoming Budget.

However, Oxfam Ireland chief executive Jim Clarken called on Mr Kenny to ensure he fulfilled his promise to deliver more overseas aid.

"The Taoiseach has pledged the Government's commitment at the UN. Making that commitment a reality will require Ireland to do things very differently - 'business as usual' won't cut it," Mr Clarken said.

"Next month's Budget offers a key moment for the Government to make a statement of intent, in both foreign and domestic policies," he added.

Mr Kenny also used his New York trip to meet former US President Bill Clinton and discuss the ongoing political instability in Northern Ireland.

The Taoiseach said Mr Clinton is still "passionately interested" in the peace process and is willing to offer his assistance to ensure the Northern institutions do not collapse.

Irish Independent

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