Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Review of White Paper on Irish Aid: Statements, Questions and Answers
Mary Ann O'Brien (Independent)
I thank the Minister of State for coming to the House. I would like to pick up on what Senator Feargal Quinn said about looking at Irish Aid from a business or value for money perspective. Have the Minister of State and his team considered the possibility of bringing all Irish Aid organisations under a single umbrella? I am aware of the existence of Dóchas. We need to imagine what Irish Aid could do as an umbrella organisation if everybody was involved. When I read through the list of the members of Dóchas, I felt ignorant because I had not heard of many of them. The list includes Action from Ireland, ActionAid Ireland, the Africa Centre, Aidlink, AIDS Partnership for Africa, the Alan Kerins Projects, Amnesty International Ireland, Camara Education, Christian Blind Mission Ireland, the Centre for Global Education, Child Aid Ireland - India, ChildFund Ireland, Children in Crossfire and Christian Aid Ireland. I will not go on, but there are many. The point I am trying to make is that Senator Feargal Quinn's former business or Tesco would not have been able to make savings by buying things through central offices if they had not expanded beyond small individual shops. If we had a beautiful building that acted as a beacon of light - perhaps like the Independent News & Media facility in west Dublin - Europe would know about it.
I join other Senators in speaking with pride about the fact that Ireland is famous for its heart, kindness and gift to these countries. We know we can share education, intelligence and information. That brings me back to the point I made about bodies such as Concern, GOAL, Trócaire and UNICEF being based in a single building and sharing three receptionists. If a delegation was travelling to Ethiopia or Uganda, two people could go instead of ten. We need to reflect on the amount of money spent on advertising during a crisis. I spoke to Deputy Micheál Martin the other day about his appearance on "Tonight with Vincent Browne" following the Asian tsunami. He was confused when an appeal was made to the public because ten numbers appeared on the screen. People did not know whether they should ring Trócaire, GOAL or another organisation. The word "co-opetition" was used when Bord Bia tried to bring various bodies under a single umbrella as part of its efforts to market this country as "Ireland - the Food Island". Is there a way of getting all of these organisations under a single umbrella in order to achieve value for money? I join Senator Lorraine Higgins in emphasising that we do not have a charities regulator and calling for complete transparency and accountability within all organisations.