Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Review of White Paper on Irish Aid: Statements, Questions and Answers
Susan O'Keeffe (Labour)
Perhaps Africa will soon be filled with animals called after the Minister of State, Deputy Joe Costello. That is something to look forward to. I am aware that the review of the White Paper and the Irish Aid programme is dear to his heart and accept that he is putting a huge effort into it. We welcomed him when he came to Sligo. I join him in paying tribute to Nora Owen for her great work in assisting in this regard.
I would like to pick up on the Minister of State's comment that "the eradication of global hunger is a key component of Ireland's foreign policy and a cornerstone of our development programme." I am particularly delighted that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine are co-operating on the African agrifood development fund. I wonder whether the Irish Aid programme will become the Irish food aid programme as we increase our concentration on the eradication of hunger which the Minister of State has described as a cornerstone of our policy. Is that where we are heading, in effect? Would it make more sense for us to use our limited resources in that way, as Senator Lorraine Higgins suggested? The Minister of State has mentioned that times have changed. Senator Mary Ann O'Brien spoke about the need for joined-up thinking in order to achieve value for money, ensure transparency and ease of access. Should we concentrate our efforts on this? I wonder what the Minister of State thinks about making such a change.