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MoS Ciarán Cannon, TD Launch of the Report on the Review of the Irish Aid Programme

Chairman Brendan Smith, Committee members, colleagues

I am delighted to be here today at the launch of this important report.

I would like to thank the committee for undertaking this review which has come at such an opportune time. The findings and recommendations of your review will be invaluable as we shape our new international development policy.

Already this year I have had a number of opportunities to look at our own international development efforts from different perspectives. I attended the Global Partnership for Education conference in Dakar, Senegal, earlier this month, and was proud to double Ireland’s contribution to the drive to build stronger education systems across the developing world. We know from our own history and experience the benefits of a good education for all, and the role of education in economic development. It was great to see this insight front and centre of global discourse and, importantly, to see governments of developing countries pledge to increase their domestic funding for education. It is important that we support them in making good choices for their children’s future.

Approaches such as these are changing the dynamics of partnership between donor countries and our partners in development.

A few days later I welcomed the state secretaries of 8 countries including the Nordics as well as the Netherlands and the UK to Dublin, where we discussed various aspects of international development. What struck me was that we are all grappling with the same international challenges and that only by working together can we hope to find solutions.

I am passionate about Ireland’s development cooperation programme, and in making sure that we excel in how we target and deliver our resources for maximum impact. Ireland, and we as Irish people, can be proud of our country’s impact. We are reducing inequality, poverty and hunger. We bring our authentic experience to this work:

- a country which has known famine but which has grown to have a world class food industry;

- a people who know both sides of the migration story – those of us who have had to leave for economic reasons and a diaspora which enriches us;

- a tradition of teachers and health workers bringing our values to the developing world;

- an island which has known conflict and which cherishes peace: and,

- a history which has its particular baggage but which was not colonial. Our recent history is one of hope, of transformation, of change and development. Our transformation story is not complete, but as such it gives us an insight into the journey that others wish to travel.

Irish people have a strong sense of ownership of our development cooperation programme. That came through in the Committee’s work. It is our responsibility, as Government and as legislators, to ensure that they can continue to be proud of the work we do and the money we spend.

The spotlight you shone on the Irish Aid programme has drawn greater attention to what we do, both inside the house and externally – which is excellent.

By taking the time to hear numerous submissions and to travel yourselves to visit communities in Africa, where our support is making a difference, you have signalled this Committee’s interest in maintaining a high quality programme. You have also highlighted the continued cross party support for Ireland’s international development work.

And in a week where there has been much attention paid to the actions of some who let themselves and the organisations that they worked for down, it is good to be reminded of the purpose of development cooperation, its effectiveness, and the hard work of the many in ensuring that results are delivered. Those results are made possible by a continued focus on excellence, building robust structures within organisations, and a culture of learning.

Colleagues,

Your report highlights the global challenges we face. As we look to set the priorities for our development funding, so that it is ready for the 2020s, this report helps set the scene for the articulation of the next generation of policy priorities. I am struck by your endorsement of the need for collective efforts to address global problems. These may at times appear far from us but, in truth, affect us all. Your report reminds us of the interconnectedness of our small but complex planet, and Ireland’s role in responding to our neighbours’ challenges, be they in Africa, the Middle East or elsewhere. A secure, settled and prosperous neighbourhood is the best guarantee of our own welfare.

I thank you for this effort and for the continuing support for Ireland’s overseas development cooperation efforts.

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