Thursday 14 November 2019

Ireland does 'punch above its weight'

It was great to hear US President Barack Obama asserting that Ireland can so often "punch above its weight".

A wonderful example is Ireland's overseas co-operation work in Africa, a programme initiated by the late Dr Garret FitzGerald. At the United Nations last September, Hillary Clinton and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin launched an initiative aimed at saving the lives of the many millions of children who suffer from illness and disease brought on by undernutrition.

Concern was delighted to be part of that initiative and in a few weeks' time we will host a major follow-up conference of civil society organisations from around the globe in Washington DC. The two governments are also planning the next important steps in the One Thousand Days Campaign -- a reference to the fact that the first 1,000 days of a child's life are crucial in determining the future of that child.

I spend a lot of time persuading people that Ireland's overseas aid is good for its reputation. In future I will just quote Mr Obama: "We also want to express our extraordinary appreciation to Ireland for all the work it does internationally. I mentioned that Ireland punches above its weight, it's a small country but the work it does on a range of issues from peacekeeping to the work we are doing together on food security, to its strong voice on human rights, all that makes an enormous difference around the world."

DEREK McDOWELL

HEAD OF INTERNATIONAL ADVOCACY, CONCERN WORLDWIDE

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