Letters to the Editor: Overseas aid budget not enough to meet escalating humanitarian needs

One reader says the €776.5m announced for overseas aid is insufficient, while another argues that the budget demonstrates Government ambivalence towards its climate commitments  
Letters to the Editor: Overseas aid budget not enough to meet escalating humanitarian needs

In the context of humanitarian needs €776.5m 'does not go far enough'. Picture: Samar Hazboun/ActionAid

Any increase in official development aid has to be welcomed. But the €776.5m announced in this week’s budget for overseas aid — in the context of escalating humanitarian needs — does not go far enough.

What we give in our overseas aid budget is our statement of solidarity and commitment as a country to ending poverty globally, and to supporting human rights, particularly women’s rights.

Irish Aid programmes are recognised as world-leading. However, we must remember that the scale of humanitarian disaster and climate crisis is staggering. Acute food insecurity globally continues to escalate, disproportionality impacting women and girls.

If Ireland is serious about addressing rising global poverty, and the impact of climate, conflict, and hunger, we need to get serious about ending the use of fossil fuels.

ActionAid Ireland recently revealed that Ireland is playing a worrying role in fuelling the climate crisis as a significant channel for global institutional investment in fossils fuels and harmful industrial agriculture.

Funds registered here hold a staggering €5.7bn in bonds and shares in climate-harming activities in the Global South.

It is essential that Government policies must not undermine our aid commitments. We are at a dangerous moment in relation to the climate crisis. Ireland needs to step up — not just in climate finance, but with coherent policies that truly tackle the crisis.

Karol Balfe

CEO, ActionAid Ireland,  Parnell Square, Dublin 1

Ambivalence on climate action

Budget 2024 demonstrates an alarming ambivalence by the Irish Government to its commitments under the Climate Action Plan 2023 (CAP 23). 

When announced, CAP 23 represented a substantial increase in ambition by the Government to reduce emissions by 51% by 2030 from a 2018 baseline. This requires an estimated investment of €120bn between 2022 and 2030. However, Budget 2024 falls short by approximately €63.18bn.

The most significant climate investment in Budget 2024 is the new ‘Future of Ireland Fund’, with an initial input of €4bn and a commitment to contributions equating to 0.8% of GDP annually between 2024 and 2035. This amounts to €4.3bn this year. Budget 2024 estimates that by 2035 the fund will grow to €100bn. On these projections, this fund is a notable contribution to the €120bn needed to execute CAP 23. 

However, Ireland’s GDP is estimated to grow on average by 3.3% per annum. On this basis, the fund will amount to €39.82bn by 2030 and €78.82bn by 2035, far short of the predicted €100bn. Budget 2024 also commits €14bn by 2030 for the ‘Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund’, through annual contributions of €2bn. A further €3bn is set aside for capital projects that contribute to achieving Ireland’s climate budgets.

In total, these commitments amount to €56.82bn in climate-focused governmental expenditure by 2030, €63.18bn below the estimated €120bn necessary to execute CAP 23. This demonstrates a misalignment between the Government’s budgetary spending and its CAP 23 commitments.

Further, the Government’s ambivalent attitude is conspicuous from it terming the main fund to address Ireland’s climate commitments as the ‘Future of Ireland Fund’. Climate change is not a ‘future’ issue, but an ever-present threat. Amassing funds by 2030 in the hope that climate change will go away is not addressing the issue but leaving the problem to be addressed in the future.

 It puts present political palatability above the real urgency to address the climate crisis. Budget 2024 undermines CAP 23 and questions the Government’s sincerity to its climatic commitments.

Imminent governmental action and expenditure to address climate change is required. Budget 2024 is not only unsatisfactory to meet Ireland’s 2030 commitments but signifies an alarming governmental attitude to the seriousness of climate change as a present world issue.

Luke Gibbons

Claremorris, Co Mayo

 A reader ponders whether Richard Boyd Barrett has a forest of money plants to fund his expansive plans. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins
A reader ponders whether Richard Boyd Barrett has a forest of money plants to fund his expansive plans. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Planting seeds of a cash crop idea

Richard Boyd Barrett’s exhortations for money to be spent with gay abandon does make me wonder where he’s going to find this lucre.

There’s a household plant commonly known as the money plant. Maybe Mr Barrett has an Amazonian forest of same in his possession to fund his expansive plans. 

If not, I’m happy to donate a few money plant cuttings to him. Methinks he’s going to need them.

Aileen Hooper

Stoneybatter, Dublin 7

Budget fails to deliver for carers

I am writing to express my disappointment in Budget 2024. As a carer, I am particularly concerned about the lack of support for those with carers’ responsibility. The €12 a week increase in the carer’s allowance is nowhere near enough to meet the rising cost of living.

The budget as a whole is uninspiring and lacks impact. It does nothing to emphatically address the housing crisis, which is one of the biggest challenges facing our country. A budget is normally an opportunity for the Government to make a statement about the issues it cares about, but there was nothing in this budget to suggest that the Government cares about housing, or about the people who are struggling to afford to live in their own country.

I am particularly disappointed that there was nothing in the budget to address the shortage of affordable housing. The Government has promised to build more affordable housing, but has not done enough to make this a reality. The budget should have included funding for the construction of far more affordable housing, as well as measures to help people who are struggling to afford to buy or rent a home. One-off payments, particularly non-targeted ones, do not address the real problems. They are attention-getting and an
attempt to dupe the electorate, yet they risk inflationary pressures.

Budget 2024 is a disappointment. It does not address the biggest challenges facing our country and it does not provide enough support for those who need it most.

Killian Brennan

Malahide Rd, Dublin 17

Budget satisfaction

As a pensioner, I am reasonably happy with the budget. Mind you, as the Rolling Stones sang, you can’t always get what you want.

Tom Gilsenan

Dublin 9

Western hypocrisy

If you cage a nation in an open prison, if you oppress and torture them, if you steal their land, you are foolish in the extreme if you think they will not rise up, break out at some point. If you then blockade and bomb them and deprive civilians of fuel, food, and water and do not cry stop or call it a war crime, you are a hypocrite and a racist. 

If you then cut off arms so they cannot defend themselves you are joined at the hip with the torturer, the oppressor, and become the criminal in genocide. UN where are you? EU where are you? Ireland where are we?

Kevin T Finn

Mitchelstown, Co Cork

Committee was not fairly balanced

I welcomed the coverage of Elma Walsh’s appearance before the Joint Committee on Assisted Dying (October 10, 2023). However, I was disappointed by the make-up of the committee hearing. As Robert Troy acknowledged, the committee consisted of three people who were strongly in favour of euthanasia and one person opposed to it.

 I feel it was wrong to have Ms Walsh as the sole voice who had criticisms and an opposition to euthanasia, especially because she is not an activist or a political campaigner, but simply a woman who was telling her story about her son’s experience and his legacy.

This is a difficult subject to talk about, and I feel it was made more and unnecessarily difficult for Ms Walsh to be the only voice in the room opposing what the others were saying. A 50-50 split would have been far more fair, so that she wasn’t the lone voice going against what three men were saying.

Garrett Ahern’s comments on this inexorable social trajectory towards liberalisation with regards to divorce, contraception, marriage equality, and abortion was inappropriate. I understand he’s a member of the public and has his own personal view, but it is wrong (in this member of the public’s view) to frame euthanasia as within some sort of social liberal box of inevitable “progress”. 

I personally find State-backed euthanasia to be an acknowledgment that hope has its limits and that suicide can be the answer. This to me is not progress, but a cheapening of human life.

Caoimhín Ó Maolchalann

Ballinasloe, Co Galway


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