Seanad debates

Wednesday, 2 February 2005

Tsunami Disaster: Statements.


12:00 pm

Photo of Feargal QuinnFeargal Quinn (Independent)

I thank Senator Phelan for allowing me to share his time. I congratulate the Minister on the Government's rapid response as the tsunami crisis developed.

There is an old Oxfam saying, "if you give somebody a fish you feed them for a day but if you teach them to fish you feed them for life". I recognise that when disasters happened in the past we have helped financially. What we have not done and what we must do in the future is change our attitude to fair trade in the developing world. We will not get on top of this if all we do is help out when a disaster occurs. I am always proud to be Irish and to be European. However, it makes me ashamed when I see how we in Europe trade with the rest of the world, how we dump our products on the rest of the world, how we subsidise our own products and refuse to allow in products from other parts of the world. That is something we should address, much more than any other help.

I was delighted to hear the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Martin, speak at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week. I congratulate him for his courage in saying what he said in spite of the criticisms. If we are to do anything to help the developing world it cannot be merely financial. We must do more than that. I urge the Minister of State to use his power to ensure that in the immediate future, not just in the long term, we follow what Bono said, also at Davos, and move to enforce in Europe a different attitude from the one taken in the past. We are taking steps in that direction but we are so protective of our own and each step we take to protect our interests in Europe damages the rest of the world and ensures that developing countries will never get off the ground. I urge the Minister of State to do something about that because that is how we can help the developing world. We respond very well to disasters. Let us make sure that we respond on the other issue and do it ahead of time.

I have heard informal reports that the 0.7% we set as a target should include all private help to the developing world. Will the Minister of State confirm that that 0.7% is Government aid to the developing world and does not include other investment? We as a nation have helped privately in various ways over the years. I would like the Minister to assure me that the target of 0.7%, which may not be reached in 2007, refers solely to Government aid.


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