Ireland: church calls on government to honour UN aid target

 The newly-launched Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs of the Irish Bishops' Conference has expressed its disappointment at the Irish government's decision in its forthcoming White Paper, not to meet the target of spending 0.7% of Gross National Income on Oversees Development Aid by 2007. It says this: "threatens to significantly undermine Ireland's credibility as a nation that has traditionally prided itself in espousing the Christian ideal of solidarity." In a statement the Commission says: "As the late Pope John Paul II stated: 'Solidarity is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good. That is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.'" " a binding timetable at the earliest possible date is a matter of integrity for the Irish Government, and the Irish people, in whose name that promise was made at the United Nations in 2000. ".. the appeals for assistance from those nations whose populations in many cases lack access to basic education facilities and primary health care provision cannot any longer go unheard. It is estimated that there are 120 million school-aged children who are not enrolled in any school and as recent as 2004 11 million children died before reaching their 5th birthday. "These concerns are not motivated by any feeling of vague compassion but out of a concern for justice. Again, as the late Pope John Paul II stated: 'the acceleration of interdependence between persons and peoples needs to be accompanied by equally intense efforts on the ethical-social plane, in order to avoid the dangerous consequences of perpetrating injustice on a global scale.' "In this context, we are deeply conscious that the widening inequalities in the world are actually making the problems more difficult to resolve. The socio-economic gap encourages those with the highest qualification, often nurses and doctors, to emigrate in order to fill vacancies that exist in the wealthier countries, thus exacerbating an already intolerable situation. "We believe that the forthcoming White Paper should: "Set out a government commitment to reaching the UN target of 0.7% of GNI no later than 2010. In this context, we note that not only have five European countries already reached the UN target figure of 0.7% but that an additional two, namely Belgium and Finland have committed to this target date of 2010. "Publish a multi-annual timetable for achieving this commitment based on an agreement between the Ministers for Finance and Foreign Affairs. "Recommend legislation to guarantee that the Oversees Development Aid target of 0.7% is upheld. We further recommend that all parties in government and in opposition should enter a compact to honour the 0.7% figure beyond the 2010 target date. "The adoption of such proposals would not only give adequate time for the Government to build up the necessary internal capacity for managing an increased aid budget but would also offer the possibility of long term planning on the basis of predictable resources." Source: Irish Catholic Media Office

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