Irish missionaries alarmed at aid cuts

 At the AGM of the Irish Missionary Union held this week at Dalgan Park, Navan, Co Meath, Irish missionaries expressed alarm over the practical consequences on the ground which will flow from the 22% cut in Irish government aid funding, resulting in a disproportionate impact on the world's poorest people. Projects already planned for will have to be deferred if alternative funding cannot be found.

While acknowledging the serious economic situation here at home and the need for the Government to support the unemployed and those who have lost everything, the missionaries were alarmed that the overseas aid budget has taken a cut of 22%, the highest percentage cut of any government department. They appealed to the Government not to cut the overseas budget any further, especially the Aid given to civil society. The bulk of the aid given through Irish Aid is given to UN bodies, The Clinton Foundation, Governments, World Bank etc. In 2008, only 19% of the total Irish Aid funding was given to Irish based NGOs (eg Goal, Concern, Trocaire, etc) and Missionaries.

"In recent years, the Irish Government has won respect throughout the world flowing from its commitment to bettering the lot of the poorest of the poor in our world" said Sr Miriam Duggan FMSA, President of the Irish Missionary Union. This commitment has been seen as a major thrust of our foreign policy and has improved our reputation throughout the world. Sr Miriam said: "Further cuts to the Irish Aid budget run the risk of undermining our foreign policy by seriously damaging our standing in the world community as a voice for the poor. If we cannot keep the promises that we have made as a nation how can we expect others, including promises made by African governments, not to do the same" .

Following the recent publication of the Hunger task force report, launched at the UN in the presence of the UN General Secretary, Ban Ki-Moon and the Taoiseach, Ireland has been seen as a leader in the field of reducing hunger throughout the world.

Fr Eamon Aylward, Executive Secretary of the IMU said that "the Irish Hunger Task Force report highlighted that 20,000 babies throughout the world die from a lack of food each day and the latest figures indicate that approximately 1 billion people go to bed without having sufficient food to eat. The recent Irish Aid cuts will undoubtedly exacerbate an already appalling and unacceptable situation".

"On behalf of all the poor we work with in developing countries, we the members of the Irish Missionary Union make an ardent request of our government not to make any further cuts to the Irish Aid programme."

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