Dáil debates

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Financial Resolutions 2020 - Financial Resolution No. 7: General (Resumed)

 

1:10 pm

Photo of Colm BrophyColm Brophy (Dublin South West, Fine Gael)

Budget 2021 is the largest investment in the history of the State, at a time when we need it most. It is about allowing the Government to respond to the challenges and opportunities we face both at home and abroad. In budget 2021, I have worked with the Minister, Deputy Coveney, and my colleagues in the Department of Foreign Affairs to secure funding that will help those suffering from the effects of conflict, poverty, climate change and now a pandemic.

We will allocate an additional €30 million in overseas development aid funding next year. This increase underlines the priority that the Government and I attach to meeting our aid targets. The budget allocation will stand at €868 million and bring us a further step towards achieving our UN target of 0.7% of GNI* to overseas development aid by 2030. Specifically, this will enable us to respond to the needs of those most affected by Covid-19, to contribute to global efforts not just to develop a vaccine but also to ensure it will be available to people irrespective of income or where they are from. We will continue to invest in global public health because, as the World Health Organization's Dr. Mike Ryan continually reminds us, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Given the scale of the crisis, a coherent, system-wide international response is necessary. The leadership of the United Nations, and in particular of the World Health Organization, has never been more necessary. I will continue to encourage the multinational system to deliver as one and work with our EU partners to maximise the co-ordination, coherence, effectiveness and visibility of our European Union response.

The increased budget allocation for Irish Aid will allow us to step up our work on climate action, to continue to help those most vulnerable to adapt to the effects of climate change. I am very conscious that many of those on the front line of climate change have done the least to contribute to the problem, which is why I have established a dedicated climate unit within Irish Aid, as provided for in the programme for Government. I have asked it to develop a strategy for climate finance and to build on Ireland's emerging climate diplomacy, including as we prepare for the COP26 summit in Glasgow next year. Our climate diplomacy has an explicit focus on least developed countries and the small island developing states, strengthening their capacity to plan and budget for the impacts of climate change, including their ability to access international finance. I anticipate that the links between climate and security will resonate throughout Ireland's work once we take our seat on the Security Council in January.

On the other side of my junior ministerial responsibility, Ireland's global diaspora, I will publish in the coming weeks a new diaspora strategy in line with our commitments under the programme for Government. This will ensure that the welfare of the most vulnerable members of our diaspora will remain at the heart of our policy. The new strategy will also recognise the diversity of the contemporary diaspora and reflect the values of modern Ireland. I very much welcome in budget 2021 the increased funding for the emigrant support programme, bringing the annual allocation to more than €13 million. The programme and a new targeted Covid-19 response fund have supported Irish communities and organisations throughout the world during these difficult times and will continue to do so. The emigrant support programme will always prioritise the welfare of our people abroad.

On a personal level, I have been struck by the dedication and determination of the volunteers within the Irish diaspora communities as they have tackled the challenges of Covid-19 head on and are a great source pride for this country. They have worked quietly and effectively, with the support of our embassy network and through the emigrant support programme we have provided, to have a real impact on people's lives. This vital work will continue in the coming weeks, months and years. As Minister of State with responsibility for the issue, I will support Irish efforts to develop new markets and increase Ireland's worldwide engagement to position Ireland for economic recovery. We are well on our way to achieving our goal of doubling Ireland's global footprint by 2025 but, in these complicated times, we must be equipped to respond to global developments. Budget 2021 will ensure we continue to provide essential services to those most in need throughout the world, whatever the scenario.

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