Dáil debates

Wednesday, 26 January 2005

Tsunami Disaster: Statements.


6:00 pm

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Louth, Fianna Fail)

I thank Members for their comments. Deputy Kenny referred to the need for additional medics. The WHO has stated that there is no need for additional medics, particularly in Indonesia where there was an avalanche of medics. Following such disasters, we always give people, particularly those in the public service, the opportunity to take time off to assist. It is not often I get compliments from Deputy Rabbitte but I will take them in the spirit he made them. However, I would say the response from the Government was not slow. In fact, I was involved as early as 10 a.m. on St. Stephen's Day. A neighbour, a parent of a person who was caught up in the disaster, contacted me at 10 a.m. and immediately the crisis plan, which was put in place in the aftermath of 11 September 2001, kicked into play. Deputy Rabbitte might not have realised it because perhaps he, like most people, was working off the effects of his Christmas dinner, but civil servants were manning the phones before 12 p.m. on St. Stephen's Day, and I thank them for that.

Deputy Rabbitte referred to our denial in regard to 0.7% of GDP for ODA, or the fact we had, in effect, forgotten about that. It is an absolute commitment of this Government to reach 0.7% of GDP. I indicated publicly to the NGOs and other interested parties that we wish to work with them in the coming months to insert a new, realistic timetable in regard to the achievement of this target.


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