Dáil debates

Wednesday, 26 January 2005

Tsunami Disaster: Statements.


6:00 pm

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)

Tá mé ag roinnt ama leis na Teachtaí Connolly, Finian McGrath agus Sargent. Thar cheann Sinn Féin, déanaim comhbhrón faoin tragóid ollmhór, an tsunami seo, a d'fhág 250,000 duine marbh i ndosaen náisiún san Áise thoir-theas agus san Afraic mí ó shin. I measc na marbh, bhí bean óg ó mo cheantar féin, Eilís Finnegan, agus tá Éireannach eile caillte, Conor Keightley, as Tír Eoghain, síocháin síoraí acu.

Our thoughts are with all the bereaved families and the families of the missing, including the family of Lucy Coyle and of Michael Murphy. Our thoughts are also with the orphaned children and the traumatised survivors, many of whom have been made homeless and jobless and who must now rebuild their lives. They are also with the adults and the children, who are now more vulnerable than ever to preventable death from hunger or disease, and with all those who are now coping with a disaster of unprecedented scale. The bravery and community spirit which the people of the tsunami-affected states have demonstrated under these conditions, humbles us all.

I welcomed the announcement by the Minister, Deputy Dermot Ahern, of the increase in the Government's tsunami humanitarian aid commitment to €20 million but I am deeply disappointed that the Government's second €10 million will not be additional moneys, as stipulated by the UN, but rather come from the existing emergency humanitarian assistance budget.

I urge the Government of the second-wealthiest state in the EU and the fourth-wealthiest in the world, that at the very least it should match the generosity of the Irish people whose donations to date exceed €50 million and with more to come. The Irish people's spirit of solidarity is a source of national pride and I commend each and every donor. I also commend all those, including members of my party, who have organised and participated in tsunami relief fund-raising efforts throughout the country. The 5 million survivors in the 12 affected countries who now lack the basics of food, water and shelter, must receive relief on the basis of need without discrimination. Equally, aid must not be used as a tool of counter-insurgency against affected populations in conflict zones. To this end, Sinn Féin welcomes the UN's formal co-ordination role in relief operations.

Sinn Féin supports the contribution of Irish military assets for humanitarian relief in response to the UN requests and their deployment under the leadership of the UN emergency relief co-ordinator in co-operation with the tsunami-affected governments. Emergency disaster relief and the freezing of the €272 billion debt owed by these countries are not sufficient. Ireland must ensure that the reconstruction provides for the long-term development needs of the affected regions and includes participation by local communities affected in formulating their future.

This disaster has highlighted the urgency of the related issues of debt cancellation and the need for fair trade rules as well as the need for meeting the UN's ODA target of 0.7% GNP by 2007. I endorse the priorities for post-tsunami action identified by Oxfam as reconstruction plus. Like other Deputies, I urge the Government to provide global leadership on these issues, starting with the announcement that it has resumed its commitment to meeting the UN's ODA target by increasing Ireland's ODA spend for 2005 to 0.5% GNP.


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