Dáil Éireann - Volume 423 - 07 October, 1992
Private Members' Business. - Overseas Development Aid: Motion.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe Mr. J. O'Keeffe
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Because of the limited time available, I wish to share my time with Deputies Owen and McGinley.
Acting Chairman (Mr. Wyse) Acting Chairman (Mr. Wyse)
Acting Chairman (Mr. Wyse): Is that satisfactory? Agreed.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe Mr. J. O'Keeffe
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: I move:
That Dáil Éireann condemns the Government for its shameful record on Overseas Aid and reaffirms the commitment to attaining the United Nations' target of 0.7 per cent of GNP within seven years by annual increases of not less than .07 per cent of GNP.
It is obscene that in a world with full and plenty there are 3,000 people dying every day from starvation in Somalia. It is even more obscene that sufficient resources have not been committed in good time by governments and international agencies to support the magnificent efforts of voluntary aid workers to reduce the death toll there.
Like many others, I share the sense of pride which is widespread in Ireland that our President has taken such a leading role in focusing international attention on that famine. I also share fully the sense of shame expressed by President  Robinson that such appalling inhumanity could occur in this age and in our time. I certainly hope that the visit by our President will be the spark to ignite the nations from their selfish lethargy in responding to famine, disease and want in Somalia and elsewhere throughout the Third World. I salute President Robinson for the efforts she is making and I hope these efforts will lead to an explosion of support at United Nations, EC and national levels.
The generosity of the Irish people in their voluntary contributions to the aid agencies operating in Somalia and elsewhere throughout the Third World is also something of which we can be very proud. We should also record our appreciation of the aid workers and missionaries in Somalia, throughout Africa and the developing world who are such worthy ambassadors for Ireland and bring such enormous credit to our country.
Against this background Ireland should be in a position to encourage the nations of the world to follow the Irish example and to contribute in proportion to their resources, as suggested by the President, so that hunger and want can be challenged now in Somalia and elsewhere and development co-operation can be properly funded throughout the Third World. Sadly, that is not the case. The legacy of this Government is the shameful record which we now have as the nation with the lowest level of official aid in the developed world. Even in relation to the moneys allocated by Ireland to Somalia from the aid budget, no Supplementary Estimate has been proposed, in the absence of which it must be assumed that these moneys have been reallocated from other international co-operation activities. Robbing hungry Peter to feed starving Paul is no answer to world want.
Clearly this Government feel they can get by with platitudes and rhetoric, hoping no doubt that when the Somalia crisis is over and compassion fatigue sets in, the attention of our people will be redirected from the need for solidarity with the Third World.
 That is why I reject the Government amendment — not for what is in it but rather because of what is not in it. Of course the sentiments expressed are correct but the sentiment is no substitute for hard cash. We are asked in the Government amendment to commend the Government on positive efforts made to draw attention to the plight of the starving people in Somalia. I do, and I appreciated the efforts of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Andrews, in so doing. It also refers to the assistance provided through the high quality of Ireland's bilateral aid programme. When I had ministerial responsibility I visited the Irish aid workers, official and voluntary, and their work was of a very high standard. There is no problem in approving that. We are asked to note the Government's commitment in the Programme for Government to undertake a planned programme of increases in Ireland's official development assistance. We all know about that. We are asked to salute the Irish people, which I have already done, and pay tribute to the work of the Irish non-governmental organisations.
Where is the commitment to the United Nations target or to any financial framework in which that target can be achieved? Let us be blunt; without that we are left at Government level with empty rhetoric. It is time to reconfirm our commitment to the United Nations target of 7 per cent of GNP. More importantly, it is time to set out how this can and will be achieved and to have the agreement of all parties in the Dáil to that financial framework.
I am well aware of how difficult it is to obtain increased resources when Estimates are being prepared annually. I had ministerial responsibility for five years for the aid programme up to 1986 and know the sustained and persistent effort needed to increase our GNP percentage which ultimately reached .26 per cent in 1986. The percentage has however, collapsed in the meantime. We are now back at .17 per cent and have the doubtful record of being at the bottom of the  league with the worst performance in the developed world.
I do not move this motion on behalf of Fine Gael for the purpose of berating Fianna Fáil and their coalition partners with cynical hypocrisy or even benign neglect. The shameful record speaks for itself. I am more interested in looking to the future. I want all parties to reconfirm our commitment to the United Nations target of .7 per cent of GNP. More importantly I want all parties to agree to the Fine Gael proposal that this be achieved by minimum annual increases of at least .07 per cent so that during this decade the target can be achieved.
So often I have seen in the past sentimental rhetoric coupled with vague promises which are always carefully drafted to provide an escape hatch. This is not acceptable any longer. We need to be clear, positive and unequivocal in our commitment. That is what I am seeking from the Dáil tonight.
If we accept that it is obscene that thousands should die of starvation in a world of full and plenty, we will agree this commitment. We will share the sense of anger, frustration and distress of those who have personally witnessed those scenes of death and degradation in Somalia. My colleague, Deputy Higgins, will be able to tell us about it. I have not seen it in Somalia but I saw it in Ethiopia and elsewhere and I am sure the circumstances are no different. The death and degradation which are so obvious at the height of a famine leave a searing impression and induce a commitment to ensure as far a possible that such famines will not happen again. The problem is that they do happen again. I was in Ethiopia in 1984. There was a huge response at that time but then the world forgot. There was famine in Sudan years later and now there is famine in Somalia. Unless there is a sustained commitment, famines will occur and recur over and over again.
We are not just talking about Somalia. We are talking about the countless millions throughout the Third World who are perpetually under threat of starvation. We are talking of the 40,000 children  who die every day from malnutrition and preventable disease. We are talking of the half million refugees in Kenya and in so many other countries. Essentially we have a long standing moral debt through our commitment to the UN target which will not be erased by periodic contributions of conscience money.
It is not a question of whether we can afford to pay our proper dues. Essentially we have no moral voice whatever if we, the 25th richest nation out of 180 in the world, do not accept our share of responsibility. How can we legitimately demand of others to do what we are not prepared to do ourselves? It is not as if we are talking of sums which are beyond our capacity.
It is also worth bearing in mind that we ourselves are enormous beneficiaries, as one of the poorer members of the European league, to the tune of over £1,000 million a year through our membership of the European Community. We have no hesitation in seeking the solidarity of the richer countries of the EC and in accepting all the grant aid and funding that is going because of that sense of solidarity which is part of the European Community.
Furthermore, it is also worth bearing in mind that the Irish economy gains enormously because of our involvement in development co-operation and it is estimated that contracts for semi-state bodies and others through EC and UN funded operations in the Third World bring in an income of over three times the amount which we are subscribing in official aid.
Many years ago we made a commitment to the United Nations target. We have not discharged that commitment. It is time that we reconfirmed our commitment and established the means by which it will be discharged. This is the purpose of the motion before the Dáil.
We stand shamed before the world if once again we accept the banal phrases of the Government amendment. We undermine the outstanding work of our President if we are not prepared to back  her and our words with cash. Above all we share the shame and guilt of responsibility for the effects of hunger and want in the world if we are not prepared to provide from our table the crumbs of support needed to allow us to discharge as a country our commitment to the UN target on overseas aid.
Mrs. Owen Mrs. Owen
Mrs. Owen: I would like Deputies to picture the following scene. It is 3 o'clock in the afternoon, temperatures are in the high 90 degrees and the sound of babies crying is all around. Inside a large shed mothers, babies and young children sit waiting to be fed. Sitting alone on a piece of sacking is a young mother suckling a baby. The baby appears to be about six months old. Sitting beside her is a seven year old child holding a tiny baby in her arms. The young mother has a deep serious wound on her arm as a result of falling into a cooking fire and not having the strength to lift herself out of it. It turns out that both babies are the same age — in fact they are twins — but this young mother because of her own physical condition has had to make a decision to breast feed only one of the babies, namely, the boy and allow the baby girl to die. That baby girl is relegated to die because of the condition of the mother. This is not a pen picture of one of the recent scenes which confronted our President, Mary Robinson, in Somalia. Instead, it is my own experience in Ethiopia in 1986 at the end of the famine there and, like Deputy O'Keeffe, one of the indelible memories I will take to my grave.
Sadly and tragically, things have not changed, as we can see watching on our television screens the horrific pictures coming from Somalia. Where are all the world leaders who in 1985 said that the kind of tragedy that happened in Ethiopia must never happen again? Where are all the commitments given at that time to development aid and assistance for the Third World to address the underlying underdevelopment which often leads to the kind of famine we are now witnessing in Somalia? Unfortunately, once the world's attention is drawn to  some other story of the day, the difficulties of Africa and other developing countries are banished from our minds and it is not until the television cameras produce the horror pictures again that the world once more sits up and takes notice for a short while.
Only a few short months ago the Irish media were filled with stories from Bosnia and former Yugoslavia. Every discussion programme covered the issue. Where is that story now? It is probably covered on pages four or five in our newspapers, if at all. Somalia is currently in the headlines because eventually the world was forced to take notice.
As a Member of this House who has taken an interest in the issue of development for all the years that I have been here, can I say that it has been a relatively lonely position to take, with only a small handful of Deputies taking a long term interest and acting year in and year out as a goad to whatever Government are in power to increase our development aid budget.
While paying a warm tribute to our President, Mary Robinson, and to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Andrews, I am devastated this evening by the wording of the Government's motion — not a single word of commitment for the kind of increases that the Taoiseach, the Minister and the Minister of State have promised over the last few days and weeks. Are we to believe that as soon as the media loses interest in Somalia, which is quite likely to happen now that the high profile visit of the President is over, the Government will be able to slip back into their old ways and ignore our overseas development aid budget?
Last November, when this Government re-negotiated the coalition with the Progressive Democrats, they included a statement indicating that there would be a steady increase in Aid between 1992 and 1994 and at the very first opportunity — the budget of 1992 — not only did we see no increase but we actually saw a decrease in the percentage given per GNP.
Over one billion people, a fifth of mankind,  still lack adequate food, clean water, elementary education and basic health care and until the world faces up to this horrific condition of a fifth of mankind, then there can be no real advance towards a genuinely civilised and environmentally sustainable one world society. The gross inequity and absolute poverty that we have witnessed on our television screens cannot continue if we in the developed world are to live in peace and prosperity. Eventually the poor of the world will rise up against the better off and demand real justice.
Recent UNICEF reports indicate that in many countries poverty, child malnutrition and ill health are advancing again after some decades of positive improvements. The overshadowing reason for this has to be the indebtedness of many of the developing world countries where they are devoting half of their total annual expenditures to the servicing of debt and or also the maintenance of their military structures. Both these activities are unproductive in assisting the people of these countries and are now costing the nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America almost $1 billion every day or more than $400 a year for each family in the developing world. This $400 represents in some instances four times the annual income of a family in a Third World country and from which they have to provide food, clean water, shelter and housing for their families.
The Taoiseach went to the UNCED Conference in Brazil earlier this year and in front of the whole world gained brownie points by stating how concerned and active Ireland was. He was, of course, trying to share the limelight with the many excellent non-governmental organisations which are working on behalf of the Irish people in the Third World and which are collecting huge voluntary donations from the same Irish people. This is not matched by a commitment from the Government and has never, in fact, been matched by Fianna Fáil when they have been in Government. The one major time when co-financing to NGOs was cut was in the  Fianna Fáil budget of 1981, which was a devastating blow to the NGOs.
If one examines the record of the ODA budget since 1987, one will see that we are now the lowest contributor of the OECD countries. Our own Irish agencies, such as Trocaire, Concern and GOAL and a number of other agencies such as Campaign Aid and the Mozambique Solidarity Group that are part of a worldwide network, are now raising more money in co-financing from the British Government and from the EC than from their own Government. For example, in the year ended 1991 Concern got donations from the British Government of over £3 million in co-financing and a further £3.5 million from the EC. During that time the Irish Government donated only £600,000 approximately compared to this £6.5 million from other agencies.
That is an indication of the respect for the work our non-governmental agencies are doing; they are giving Ireland the image of a caring society. It is not matched by the Government. Why can the Government not, like the Canadian Government match pound for pound the money raised from the public? Fine Gael have consistently offered the Government an opportunity to introduce supplementary estimates. We still do not even know whether the extra money for Somalia this year will be taken from some other Estimate which we will not find out about soon enough to cry “halt”. Is this additional money? The Minister should tell us that tonight. Fianna Fáil have never taken up the offer from this side of the House to introduce a supplementary estimate. That speaks louder than words. That is a sign of the lack of real commitment to the most vulnerable people in the world.
This motion calls on the Government to give a steady increase of 0.07 per cent annually until we reach the UN target of 0.7 per cent. We were supposed to meet that target over ten years ago. We are only at 0.17 per cent of GNP this year and that is an indictment of the Government. When we left office in 1986 there had  been a regular increase year by year. If that increase had been maintained we could now hold our heads high at international fora and indicate that we mean what we say. Instead we saw a tiny increase because of the Iraq war but the minute that was over we went back down to 0.17 per cent. I hope the Taoiseach realises that the time has come to move away from his folksy catch-all image and make a real commitment on something as essential as this. The Taoiseach's star will be very tarnished at EC level if there is not an increase in the 1993 budget. I pay tribute to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Andrews, the first Foreign Minister from the developed world to go to Somalia and highlight the conditions there. I hope his status at the Cabinet table is high enough to ensure that the commitments we have heard over the last few weeks will become a reality and that Fianna Fáil will no longer be able to renege on our moral and Christian responsibility to the peoples of the least well off nations of the world.
Mr. McGinley Mr. McGinley
Mr. McGinley: Tá lúcháir orm labhairt ar an rún tábhachtach seo atá curtha os comhair an Tí ag mo chomhghleacaithe, na Teachtaí O'Keeffe agus Nora Owen.
I attended a meeting of very concerned people in my constituency last Monday night, the Twin Towns Concern Action Group. They brought a number of public representatives in Donegal together to express their concern at the record of the Government and their immediate predecessor on overseas aid. What was discussed at the meeting was very much in line with the sentiments expressed in this motion.
The Irish people have a deep commitment to the alleviation of hunger, famine and want in every part of the world. There is always a very positive response at local level from Irish people when appeals are made. That is understandable because it is in the Irish psyche. In the 19th century we experienced famine and every schoolboy and girl learns about it. What is happening in other countries strikes a deep chord in the Irish consciousness and there is always a  positive response. There is not a parish in Ireland who have not organised events to raise funds for the alleviation of famine in the Third World. Our President by her visit to Africa has given us all a lead and has set an example to Government as to what should be done. There is a deep commitment, from the President to those in the smallest parish, and we should respond.
My two colleagues dwelt on the record of the Government since 1987. Instead of increasing ODA, as we undertook to do in the seventies, under a UN Resolution, there has been a steady decline in our contribution to ODA. As Deputy Owen said, our contribution is at its lowest level ever, at 0.17 per cent of GNP. This does not reflect the wishes or the aspirations of the Irish people. When I arrived in Dublin this afternoon I found on my desk a beautiful booklet outlining Ireland's official development assistance to the Third World. In it there was a foreword from the Minister of State, Deputy Daly, telling of his support. The booklet deals with what is going on in the various parts of the world and the assistance we are giving. On the last page there is a photograph of the Minister with other personnel. I wonder how much it cost and how many copies were published. I got one and I am sure every other Member got one. I wonder how many children and young people in Africa would have been kept alive with the money it cost to produce this document.
Somalia is only a symptom of the difficulties in the Third World. It is Somalia in 1992, it was Ethiopia in 1984 and Biafra some years before that. Only God knows what part of Africa will be in crisis next year or the year after. What we are doing is worthy and we have to send as much as we can to save life, but if we want to tackle the root causes of the difficulties in the Third World, and in Africa in particular, we will need more than a simple fire brigade exercise. We have to tackle the root causes. There must be a substantial transfer of resources from the developed world to the Third World.
Deputy O'Keeffe, my colleague, said  that we are among the richest countries in the world. We are one of the 18 OECD countries but our contribution, at 0.17 per cent, is far less than that of any other country. If we average all the other contributions, they pay double what we pay. Until there is a substantial transfer of resources from the developed world to the Third World we will have recurring disasters. I am disappointed that the Government amendment does not indicate any significant increase in the assistance we will give next year or the following year. Last year in the Joint Programme for Government, the Government reaffirmed their commitment to increasing the overseas development funding in the period 1992 to 1994. However, there is little evidence that they are seriously contemplating or planning to increase our percentage of GNP to overseas aid. This undertaking in the Government's programme seems to have about as much validity and sincerity as many other promises in it.
Any extra moneys will have the support of the Irish people who give on a voluntary basis consistently. They contribute voluntarily and they do so consistently in every part of the country. Indeed the poorer the parish the more per capita is contributed. The Bishops' Conference, Concern, Trócaire and all the other voluntary agencies who are doing such good work will bear me out in that. Irish people have no objection to putting their hands in their pockets and contributing towards the alleviation of these problems because our forefathers also experienced these problems.
I implore the Minister and the Government to substantially increase our contribution and to strive towards bringing it up to .7 per cent of GNP before the end of the century. When and if we do that we will be in a position to publish nice colourful booklets telling what we are doing.
Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Mr. Daly) Brendan Daly
Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Mr. Daly): I move amendment No. a1:
 To delete all words after “That” and substitute the following:
“Dáil Éireann commends the Government for the positive efforts it has made to draw attention to the appalling plight of the starving people in Somalia and elsewhere in the developing world and for the assistance it provides through the high quality of Ireland's bilateral aid programme; notes the Government's commitment in the Programme for Government to undertake a planned programme of increases in Ireland's Official Development Assistance; salutes the generosity of the Irish people and pays tribute to the work of Irish non-governmental organisations.”
Let me clarify two issues raised by Deputy Owen. The £500,000 for Somalia will be additional funds and not part of the existing financial commitment. In regard to the document about which Deputy McGinley is so concerned——
Mr. J. O'Keeffe Mr. J. O'Keeffe
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Will we have a Supplementary Estimate?
Mrs. Owen Mrs. Owen
Mrs. Owen: Do we need an Estimate? That is important.
Mr. Daly Mr. Daly
Mr. Daly: ——we have published about 10,000 copies. In fact, Deputy O'Keeffe launched the first one to put on the record the performance of the programme which is worthwhile, valuable and useful. He circulated this to the Members of the Oireachtas.
Mr. McGinley Mr. McGinley
Mr. McGinley: But he has a story to tell.
Mr. Daly Mr. Daly
Mr. Daly: It was circulated also to schools and to the aid agencies, the UN, etc.
Mrs. Owen Mrs. Owen
Mrs. Owen: With regard to the £500,000, is that ex-budget?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle Jim Tunney
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Minister gave perfect audience to the  Deputies. Perhaps we could reciprocate by not cross-examining him.
Mrs. Owen Mrs. Owen
Mrs. Owen: It is a technical matter.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle Jim Tunney
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Let us hear the Minister without interruption.
Mr. Daly Mr. Daly
Mr. Daly: The Government's amendment to this motion aims to make it more relevant to the substance of this evening's debate. It does not confine itself to funding but covers issues such as the quality of aid, the generosity of private contributions, the work of Irish non-governmental organisations and the situation in Somalia.
The horror of what is happening in Somalia and what seems almost certain to happen in Mozambique has shocked us all. It has brought an immediate and unique response from the people of this country. There are few towns and villages in Ireland which have not launched initiatives to raise funds for the aid agencies which are working so magnificently in Somalia and other parts of the developing world.
The visit of the Minister for Foreign Affairs in August was the first by any Foreign Minister and was instrumental in focusing the attention of the world on one of the most serious humanitarian problems since the Ethiopian famine in the mid-eighties.
President Robinson and the Minister for Foreign Affairs visited Somalia and the Somali refugee camps in Kenya last week-end. She did so at the request of the Irish aid agencies who are doing such excellent work in Somalia and who were concerned that the plight of that country should be brought to the attention of the world.
The President's visit and her obvious distress at the scenes which she witnessed have moved us all. It will rekindle the determination which the people of this country and the Government have shown to ensure that the help so urgently needed by Somalia is delivered without delay.
The Government reacted quickly to the crisis with the donation of an additional £500,000. This has been allocated  to the Irish relief agencies who are working on the ground in Somalia. This contribution raises our assistance to Somalia to £655,000 this year. We are also contributing through the United Nations and in our participation in the EC's programme of emergency assistance which has so far provided 253,000 tonnes of food aid.
We must also think of the longer-term needs of the Somali people and provide them with the kind of assistance which will allow them to begin to take charge of their own destiny.
The Government have provided £125,000 from the bilateral aid fund to launch a seed distribution programme to be run in the Baidoa catchment area. This will immediately benefit 6,000 people by providing them with the seeds and equipment to begin planting as the rainy seasons approach. It will also act as an incentive to attract dislocated people back to their villages.
Since his visit to Somalia in August, the Minister for Foreign Affairs has worked assiduously within the European Community and at the United Nations to ensure that the efforts of the international community to assist the Somali people and the many aid agencies working in the field are maintained and increased.
We have called for the Commission's presence on the ground in Somalia so that the flow and effectiveness of Community aid can be monitored, and the UN's efforts at achieving a political settlement can be supported at first hand.
We are aware that there are serious problems with the distribution of aid and we are giving our full support to the UN Secretary General's representative, Ambassador Sahnoun, who is vigorously promoting improved security. We welcome the deployment of UN troops which at last seems to be getting under way.
We are working to promote a political solution. The holding of a national conciliation conference is essential for the long term recovery of Somalia and there are now some positive signs that some progress is being made in that regard.  The news that the leaders of the two warring factions appear to be willing to attend a peace conference under the auspices of the United Nations is welcome. Every support must be provided to ensure the success of this peace initiative.
In the discussions which take place on the issue of human rights in the developing world, it is too easy to overlook the fundamental right of all men to food and shelter. When, as in the case of Somalia, the needs are so immense and the deprivation of the people so enormous, existing international structures seem powerless to reach in time with the necessary levels of resources whether they be financial or in kind.
We have seen how in Somalia, it was the non-governmental organisations that were the first to highlight the scale of the catastrophe and alert the international community to the forthcoming disaster. They were the first to begin emergency feeding programmes and have at last been heard as international support begins to pour in at the levels which are required.
The European Community was among the first of the international donors to react but we must ask ourselves if there are not improvements that could be made in our procedures so that food and other vital supplies reach those areas where there is dire need.
The need for a rapid response to emerging catastrophes such as Somalia must now be examined in the light of the tragic experiences that delays in supplying emergency relief supplies have caused in Somalia. While disaster relief is vitally important, longer term relief and investment which can prevent tragedies like Somalia taking place is most important.
In the world economy, the least developed countries in Africa where Ireland targets its main ODA have become even more marginalised — falling further behind developed and developing countries alike. Living conditions in the least developed countries have deteriorated significantly during the eighties.
Economic growth reached only an  average of 2.5 per cent, significantly below the rate of population increase. Income per head of population fell to an average annual figure of $200.
Agricultural growth rates are also inadequate. As a result, the already precarious situation especially of the rural population, where the most widespread poverty exists, has been further threatened. The livelihoods of the rural population are increasingly threatened by the continuing process of environmental degradation which undermines the agricultural resources base.
Since Ireland established its own bilateral aid programme in 1974 it has made a distinctively Irish contribution to development through the provision of forms of technical assistance in which Ireland has a special interest or competence. Within the bilateral aid programme, assistance is concentrated on four “priority countries” — Lesotho, Zambia, Tanzania and the Sudan. These rank among the least developed countries in the world.
I have recently visited three of the priority countries — Tanzania, Zambia and Lesotho. While nothing in those countries can compare to the tragedy of the people of Somalia, I was shocked at the situation of the people I met. It is only by visiting Africa and seeing the living conditions of the poorest people strugging to exist and provide for their families that an idea can be had of the enormous efforts required to provide them with even a minimum standard of living.
In each of the countries that I visited I was given the opportunity to meet many community leaders and politicians. I met the Prime Minister of Tanzania and a number of his Government ministers. I also met the President of Zambia and seven out of eight Government Ministers, including the Foreign Minister, in Lesotho. Each one asked me to express at the first available opportunity their deep appreciation of the Irish effort in their countries. They wanted me to make it known that they value the commitment of the Irish personnel working overseas,  to put on record their deep appreciation of the work being done and to highlight the necessity to continue and accelerate that work. They would certainly like me to avail of this opportunity to put on record their gratitude and deep appreciation and that of the political and community leaders in towns and villages of the work being done and the efforts being made by Irish personnel overseas in these difficult areas. They are indebted to them and would like to appeal for further aid and assistance in these difficult and trying times.
Ireland plays an active part in those international organisations such as the European Community, the United Nations and the World Bank through which aid is channelled. Ireland's official development assistance is likely to total £42.7 million in 1992. Two thirds of that, or almost £28 million, will go to programmes of multilateral assistance while the balance of £15 million is spent on Ireland's bilateral aid programme. In addition to the funds allocated to the four priority countries, significant resources are provided through disaster relief operations and to fund volunteers abroad through the Agency for Personal Service Overseas. The overall amount is slightly lower than the figure of £45 million provided in 1991. This amounts to 0.17 per cent of gross national product.
Over the past decade, 1981-91, Ireland has allocated almost £382 million in aid, in cash terms. Allocations increased steadily up to 1985-86 when they reached a plateau in gross national product terms of 0.24 per cent. A figure of 0.26 per cent is usually quoted for 1986, but is not strictly accurate, as it is based on a preliminary estimate of the outturn. The final outturn was £40.5 million, which represents, as I have said, 0.24 per cent of GNP.
The Fine Gael-Labour Coalition set a target in Building on Reality of increasing ODA by 0.015 per cent a year. It would have taken about 30 years at that rate of progress to achieve the United Nations target. ODA was relegated to the very end of Fine Gael's 1987 election manifesto Breaking out of the vicious circle  and all specific targets were dropped, as Deputy O'Keeffe knows well.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe Mr. J. O'Keeffe
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: We produced results.
Mr. Daly Mr. Daly
Mr. Daly: I think it is important to recognise therefore that the accelerated progress which Deputy O'Keeffe and others are now proposing from the Opposition benches is of a very different order of magnitude from what they considered feasible when they were in Government. Indeed, in their 1987 draft Estimates, they admitted that their proposals for that year fell short even of the Building on Reality target.
Since then, while there has been a decline in GNP terms, the amounts allocated have been substantial, and last year alone reached an all-time high in nominal terms — almost £45.5 million or 0.19 per cent of gross national product. This represented a maginally higher proportion of total Government expenditure than the 1986 level of aid, while this year it may be marginally below that level.
It has to be kept in mind that in the intervening period, Government expenditure has been cut back from 55 per cent of GNP in 1986 to around 41 per cent since 1989. In that process, the bilateral aid programme was at least preserved intact, albeit at a somewhat lower level.
I do not deny that our level of aid is among the lowest of the developed countries. I would, however, like to draw the attention of Deputies to the fact that the United States ODA contribution reached only 0.19 per cent of GNP in 1990, and they are one of the richest countries in the world, and to the fact that certain other wealthy countries, such as Britain, are planning to cut back on their ODA at the present time.
I wish to put on record the commitment in the Programme for Government “to undertake a planned programme of increases in Ireland's Official Development Assistance, 1992-1994, so as to achieve a higher ODA/GNP contribution by the end of that period”.
Mrs. Owen Mrs. Owen
Mrs. Owen: That has not happened.
Mr. Daly Mr. Daly
 Mr. Daly: There is also the longstanding commitment to reach the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent of GNP.
The Government are fully conscious of the generosity of the Irish people in the contribution they make to the Third World. Private support in Ireland for non-governmental organisations involved in development has steadily grown so that, today, Ireland has the highest rate of private development assistance, as a proportion of GNP, of any country in the world.
In his address to the United Nations General Assembly, the Minister for Foreign Affairs said that the Irish Government aim to respond to the generosity of the Irish people by increasing our official development assistance. The Minister for Foreign Affairs is at present examining ways in which it might be possible to increase Ireland's overall level of aid flows in the coming years. I would like to assure Deputies that money spent on programmes of development assistance is money well spent. Our aid programme is achieving very effective results and is very much appreciated, as I have said, in recipient countries which I recently visited.
In Tanzania, which geographically is the size of France and Germany combined, I was shocked by the scenes of deprivation and human misery but, on the other hand, it is the great wish of political leaders and communities that they will be able to find ways by which they can resolve their problems in partnership and not be dictated to by people from outside. For example, I visited a technical school in a rural area which was built with Irish funds. That school is being assisted by personnel from FÁS who are providing the training and expertise that is of vital importance in Tanzania. In every area of activity, be it in the skills or technical area, there is a huge demand for training and skills. We have been making a big contribution in that area. I have no doubt as to the practical value of this school to Tanzania bearing in mind the severe shortages of skilled labour of every kind.  As a consequence, the economic development of Tanzania is hampered due to the lack of basic skills.
I visited a number of schools where we are involved in the provision of facilities and personnel. With the Minister, I visited some water schemes established with assistance from Ireland that are providing water supplies to medical services and hospitals. I was particularly impressed in Zambia by the Irish assisted project of building and rehabilitating basic maternity facilities in the poorest district of Lusaka. Its importance in ensuring safe deliveries for thousands of Lusaka mothers and infants was stressed to me by the Zambian authorities. I met their Minister for Health, who is very conscious of the necessity for further investment in this area and of the training we give both here and overseas in a whole range of medical services which are so essential in many parts of Zambia.
I also had the opportunity to visit a cement plant there. Irish personnel provided technical support in building this project which is now producing half a million tonnes of cement each year, a product which is essential for the construction industry and is in very short supply in Zambia. The people there are very keen that we continue to support them in a technical way by providing personnel from here and providing training for personnel who come here from Zambia so that they can take over, manage and run their own industries, such as the cement industry. It is important that we continue to undertake this kind of work. I had an opportunity in Zambia and Tanzania to see in what respect we could further assist and support projects such as these. The problem in Somalia today is a symptom of the underlying problem of the lack of investment in a whole range of activities. Enormous problems will arise in many other areas also unless massive investment, well organised and with the back-up of technical support and advice, is provided.
In each of the countries in which we work we target the poorest sectors of  the population. We help to provide the essential ingredients for a decent and dignified standard of living for the people. A criticism of our effort has been that we have been working in the educational, technical and health areas to the detriment of the poorest sections of the community, but I refute that suggestion. Anyone who has been to these countries will realise that the Irish organisations there work with the poorest and least well off sections of the community. I was very impressed by the dedication and commitment of the people who are working in terrible conditions and I would like to put on record our appreciation of the work they are doing.
Despite its modest size, Ireland's aid programme is one of the more effective of national aid programmes and meets the basic needs approach which is at the heart of our bilaterial aid programme. This was highlighted on numerous occasions to me and the officials who accompanied me by the people working there who are crying out for more assistance, technical and financial, to ensure that they can get on with the work they are doing. These people are working with the poorest sections of the community and are making great efforts at times of enormous difficulties.
Irish aid programmes are delivering help and saving lives. We are providing basic water supplies, health care and educational services while not neglecting areas of real poverty which are often aggravated by shortages of food and medical supplies which are so essential for survival. The Irish programmes are people-centred and reach out effectively to those most in need. Groups such as villagers, the urban unemployed, the disabled and particularly women are given special priority. I visited a number of schemes where tremendous work is being done with very limited resources and with enormous beneficial impact, especially for women, in rural villages and isolated local communities.
For sustainable development to become a reality it is necessary for peace and stability to return to those lands where ethnic, religious and tribal divisions have  destroyed it. The end of East-West power struggles must bring better prospects for future peace in Africa. The widespread presence of modern weaponry resulting from super-power manoeuvring has been a major factor accounting for war on the continent of Africa.
Twenty years of war in the Horn of Africa have caused more damage than the worst droughts. These wars have led to Africa having the highest levels of displaced persons in the world. Many of these people are the ones who guarantee the food supply in their countries of origin. They are the farmers who know how to farm and traders who know how to trade. Without them the chances of sustainable development establishing itself are slim indeed.
The establishment of democracy in African countries and the development of new economic structures need urgent financial and technical support from the European Community and other donors. This is essential if the democratic ideal is to take root and be respected from schools through to the legal system and to those in administration and political life. Democracy must be associated with improved living conditions.
Instability and political manipulation can spring from all sectors of the population but especially in urban areas where hunger and poverty encourage a longing for a return to authoritarianism. Economic reform must therefore be accompanied by measures which protect the most vulnerable and soften the hardships which such reforms cause, no matter how necessary they may be.
These are some of the fundamental objectives to which we can contribute through our programme of bilateral assistance and within the European Community and the United Nations. By tackling the structural imbalances in the countries which we aid and by participating in efforts to strengthen the capacities of the countries to help themselves, we can make a lasting and worthwhile impact on the lives of the citizens of those countries.
The need for adequate financial resources to carry out a respectable and  effective level of assistance has and will be a constant theme of this debate. I can assure Deputies that the Government will take account of the concerns expressed and will examine carefully what can be done to make more funding available.
We in Ireland can be enormously proud of the dedication and skill of the many volunteers and experts who are prepared to work in often difficult and frequently dangerous conditions to improve the circumstances of the most marginalised groups of society in developing countries.
I want to pay tribute to all Irish aid workers and missionaries overseas; to the large number of volunteers — many of them young people — who are working in the feeding kitchens of Somalia and before that in Ethiopia; to the nurses working in the field hospitals with inadequate medical supplies and equipment; to the engineers who are restoring basic water supplies and sanitation to villages abandoned and destroyed as a result of war. All of these people deserve our respect and gratitude and I am sure that all sides of the House would wish to join with me in sending them our support and encouragement.
Mr. M. Higgins Mr. M. Higgins
Mr. M. Higgins: I move amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
“welcomes the visit of the Minister for Foreign Affairs to Somalia and his recent speech at the UN and in particular his reference to peace and justice as a principle of international policy; calls on the Government to immediately restore ODA to its 1986 level of 0.25 per cent of GNP; reaffirms its commitment to the UN target of .7 of the one per cent of GNP and to progressively increase ODA so as to achieve the UN target as quickly as possible and not later than the end of the decade; calls on the Government to indicate its support within the European Community and international forums for such strategies as will alleviate  the debt burden and discrimination in trade which is affecting so many countries with chronic food shortages and under development; and further calls on the Government to take initiatives in relation to these matters.”
This is a unique opportunity to respond to what our President and others, including myself, have experienced in the recent events in Somalia. The motion before us suggests that Dáil Éireann condemns the Government for their shameful record on overseas aid and reaffirms the commitment to attaining the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent of GNP within seven years by annual increases of not less than .07 per cent of GNP. Those are sentiments with which I would not disagree.
My amendment makes significant changes to the motion. It makes specific reference to Somalia. It accepts the major change in our foreign policy which was signalled in the recent speech at the United Nations by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, particularly regarding peace and justice. It suggests beginning at a higher point, because the wording of the motion would mean it would take until next year to reach the 1985-86 level. It also enables you to reach the target faster if economic conditions make it possible, it puts an outer lip on the achievement of the UN Charter and it very specifically refers to the issues of debt and trade.
I should like to say why the amendment is worded in this way. I was on a recent television programme where a young man from the financial world said at the end that he admired my compassion but that I was very bad at economics. I am not interested in vanity when I say that I lectured in economics for part of my life, but it is very important to stop this nonsense of dividing aid, compassion and concern from issues of economics. I offer this amendment to the House in a spirit of consensus. Will we be thanked by the public for responding to the President's dramatic appearance on television by being partisan? I offer this amendment in the spirit of trying to get all parties in  this House to move forward from what we have seen dramatically most recently. It is possible, for example, to agree a meeting between the spokespersons in the Department of Foreign Affairs and leaders of the parties to take overseas development aid from the whole question of the Estimates and reach agreement on it. It is also very important — I emphasise this — that when we establish a Foreign Affairs Committee the question of development aid must be within that committee and strongly represented, not as it has been for so long, a neglected part of our general concern for foreign affairs.
In tabling this amendment I want to make it very clear that I do not for a second doubt the sincerity of the Minister for Foreign Affairs in his two visits to Somalia, or his commitment in his speech to the United Nations. At this point in the tragic history of Africa it behoves us to trust each other and to help each other to go forward. The Minister in going to Cabinet will have the support of my party if he goes down that road. I will go further, his speech to the United Nations was one of the most significant ever given by an Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs in recent times. I welcome that and take this opportunity to compliment him on it.
There are some points about which we should be very clear. Let us for a start not fall into the trap of imagining that the problems of Africa are Africa's creation only. For example, in the Minister's speech there is an interesting section referring to building democracy. Who lent to the élites in Africa? Who sold weapons to the élites in Africa? Who set up the colonial élites to deprive the people of basic access to water, education and shelter? The North of the world did so, so let us nail the lie that Africa is dying because of the characteristics of Africans. There are countries in the European Community and in the North of the planet which are selling the weapons of death to this Continent which is plagued by so many problems. They are making profits from these sales. The European Community, when speaking  about its evolution, did not put into treaties like that concluded at Maastricht any prohibition on arms sales or dissemination. They stand condemned when the President speaks of shame on television. Let us remember that the words will die on our lips if we also imagine that the problems of Africa are not connected to issues of debt and trade, which I specifically mentioned in my amendment.
Is it acceptable that in 1991 $50 billion was transferred from the South — where 80 per cent of the population of the planet consume 17 per cent of the resources — to the North. In 1988, $43 billion was transferred and $38 billion in 1987. Now let us stand back and listen to all the people who are represented in international political groupings around the world. As the threat of famine in Africa and different parts of the world was increasing the South was putting more into servicing debt. Equally, primary producing countries were experiencing one set of restrictions after another in relation to their capacity to trade in the North. It is gross hypocrisy to suggest that the North is not involved.
I had hoped when I spoke here this evening that there would be a response, a change of mind, which would enable people to say that they would make a new start in relation to economics. How can parties and people make suggestions — for example, that Africa has to pull itself up — when Zimbabwe, which used to provide food for the front line states under siege from Africa, sold its grain reserves and next year will need two million tonnes of grain for itself? A Member of this House said that my visit to Somalia was a waste of time. However, we are connected to what is happening in Africa and in the South of the world. I had hoped that the dramatic events in recent times in Somalia would be sufficient to enable us to say that we must “detoxify” — as I call it — from this notion that we have a form of economics which is so right it must be imposed on the dead and the dying of Africa.
Compassion is not enough, there must be a shift in our intellectual thinking, in  the way in which we look at the world. I saw signals in the speech at the United Nations that we would accept interdependency for what it was; that means the revision of our economic thinking and it means changing our thinking in relation to debt, trade and aid. There is a need for a new international economic order. President Robinson understands that. That sentiment is throughout her speech. The Brandt report suggested a new international economic order for self interest but there is now no suggestion of a new international economic order, even for self interest. We need that so as to be able to save ourselves from the immiserization of our own economic thinking, because so many of those who have been most generous in giving have been people whom one could describe as the Somalia within Ireland.
The same thinking of aggressive, acquisitive greed, the poison, has been spread in the world from the ideas of Van Haeck through to Friedman and popularised by Thatcher and Reagan, whom history will recall as the people who set the world into a regressive spiral back towards its appalling nadir of itself. There are people sleeping under hotels in New York, Britain's economy is in bits and there are millions unemployed — all for a vicious ideology that people should serve the economy. I call that ideology, the “depeopled economy”. Maybe I thought when I was watching people die in Somalia that in this microcosm we would be able to take ourselves and save ourselves from the worst of ourselves and our most inhuman relationship of society and economics. A good economic theory can be based on a relationship between north and south that is different. To put that theory into practice requires an act of political will.
Before turning to the detail of the motion before the House, I should like to speak on one point that strikes me as interesting. From being there, I thought that there could be some kind of a moral storm, as opposed to Desert Storm that became a byword of the Gulf War. I was in Somalia for nine days and travelled in different places such as Mandera, where  Trócaire are trying to get 10,000 people out of a camp of 50,000 before the rains come — positively if the rains can assist the seed programme in Gido province, but negatively if the rains bring cholera — Bellahowa, where wells are being restored so as to enable people to have water; Garissa, where a bishop and a nun are trying to feed children; Mogadishu North, where the Red Cross are running a field hospital heroically and in co-operation with the Red Crescent; Baidoa, where Concern were the first in with food kitchens and in Mogadishu and outside of Baidoa, where volunteers have gone to work for GOAL. I agree with the Minister and other spokespersons in paying tribute to those people.
I noted that there were no television cameras around when I was in Somalia. I remember the competition between CNN, Sky and all the other stations as to who “fired the first rocket”. In my house my children and myself were inundated with war video games by international news media companies. The international news media were not present when I saw a child not make it to a clinic, nor were they in the field hospital of northern Mogadishu as I sat alongside a child of eight who was waiting to have his leg amputated.
There is no point in suggesting that we can go on speaking about aid, about Africa and about the rest of the world, when we are in the grip of this mind of aggression that wants to be inundated with images of war and aggression. The country that could rush to defend the El Salvadorians still has to deliver its 145,000 tonnes of promised food to Somalia. The Saudi Arabians, we are told, have so lessened their resources that they cannot help their neighbour. There is an obscenity about all of this. Of what I saw, to me the most moving was to stand watching the weapons left over by one Super-power and then another Superpower in the hands of children while other children a few feet away were walking skeletons. It was as if all morality had gone. More important to me, the people who produce and sell weapons and glorify war are committing  crimes against this planet and crimes against humanity, by deflecting resources that are so urgently needed. I remember thinking when I was in the Middle East before, that if only a fraction of the resources spent on weapons of destruction was spent on the provision of clean water there would be a tremendous impact on the population of the south.
In relation to the events that have taken place in Somalia, there are important dimensions. I think, for example, of those who are using the seeds programme; they are not only creating the capacity for reconstruction but are also creating a dialogue between and within clans. One would have to go back to that system if trying to reconstruct civil society, because civil society has collapsed. The movements in peace that are coming from the ground up are as important and, perhaps, much more important than the talks that are taking place between President — as he calls himself — Mahdi and General Adid. I met the chief of chiefs and the elders in Gido Province. It is from a congress of these that will come a request to the main participants in the conflict to take themselves out of the scene. One could then create a legitimacy which could be exercised. The United Nations could then be asked to come in so that there may be a period of security when food can be distributed and the task of reconstructing society can be undertaken.
For me, there were many revisions in my thinking. I wished that Members of this House were willing to change their thinking, too. For example, I have long valued sovereignty — remember my work in Central America — but there are now times when the issues are so great that we must think of other models in which we can attenuate that. I believe that what has happened in Africa is more serious even that the later period of colonisation. If the decolonisation committee of the United Nations came into existence for a specific purpose there are now specific purposes that ask us to establish agencies which would enable the United Nations to move more quickly. Let us not criticise the  United Nations either as a concept or as an organisation. As an organisation, it is something to which all the governments of the world belong. If it is inoperable or made useless that is often because the permanent members of the Security Council want to make the United Nations weak. Indeed, the inability of the United Nations to respond is a result of their actions. One of the permanent members owes $730 million to the organisation. The United Nations' absence of reform was reflected in its bureaucracy and delayed its capacity to respond to issues such as the problems in Somalia.
On the general issue of aid, it is not the transfer of resources that is so much involved in relation to the south such as the African countries about which we speak. The issue is really one of equity. It is an issue of equity in trading and the need to be given a chance. The global economy in 1989 was worth $20 trillion. The developing world debt stood at $1.3 trillion. Its debt amounted to 44 per cent of the gross national product of that part of the planet. We cannot speak meaningfully in terms of what we are going to do unless we speak about addressing these issues. There is nothing abstract. President Robinson used the word “shame”, where the shame arises. How long did it take to respond to Somalia? Sian Barre was gone in January 1991; why the long delay? Let us think of another. Mozambique threatens to be worse than Somalia. When will we respond to that? There is of course a need now, within days, for world leaders to make a response to the immediate problems of the Horn of Africa and to call a conference on the future of Africa. Beyond all these immediate problems there are other and deeper ones threatening in that continent. But here is the other one, which I am afraid I cannot make sense of — those who say they are interested in the aid argument and at the same time are clinging to the economics of death, who will not condemn the economics of armaments production. If reference is made to Rio — I was covering the conference for the purpose of making a film in Rio — the Global Environmental  Facility is the main instrument in that strategy that was supposed to go forward from Rio; yet in the GEF, as it is called, the World Bank has a major role. The World Bank and the IMF are forcing economic strategies on the countries that are short of food.
How can you speak with any credibility about aid and responding to famine and death in Africa or anywhere else unless you are willing to take, as the President was, the grief of the existing structure of the world into yourself and decide that you will change it. I do not make proposals that are not costed. What I have proposed in our amendment would cost £20 million, but I believe there is public support for it. That is why I offer it through a basis of consensus in this House rather than as a strictly party position.
On the general issue of aid, it is important here not just to rehash the old record again about how there has been a failure in that regard. It is dreadful that we have slid off from the way in which we were making progress, however slowly. There are many other issues in relation to ODA that we should bear in mind. As there will be a Government reply I want to be very specific about some points in the Minister's speech which I hope he will clarify because perhaps they are based on a misunderstanding. In his speech he said:
The European Community was among the first of the international donors to react but we must ask ourselves if there are not improvements that could be made in our procedures so that food and other vital supplies reach those areas where there is dire need.
The European Community's political response to Somalia was a scandal. It is probably of the order of its response, which I believe was intellectual paralysis, to the issue of unemployment in Europe itself. It has failed abysmally in relation to unemployment; it has not even produced discussion papers that could be taken with respect.
In relation to Africa and in the specific instance of Somalia it was, certainly  among the first, a scandalous and disgraceful response; its response in relation to the Horn of Africa and Africa in general is still awaited. It is a great European shame.
In regard to the world economy and the least developed countries in Africa there is a phrase in the Minister's speech “falling further behind developed and developing countries alike.” That paragraph gives the impression that we are all equal partners in a race. We are not. The debt that has been lent to the elites that have used 66 per cent of the receipts on military spending is an obstacle that has to be recognised. The obstacles to trade have to be recognised. The next paragraph refers to problems in Africa as a failure of economic growth. How could you have economic growth when you have neither economic independence and when you are on a stranglehold from trade and debt?
These are important points. It will all have been wasted if there is not a change in thinking and we abandon this nonsense which is rather like blaming the unemployed for unemployment, the poor for poverty and Africa for Africa's tragedy.
There is a need — and it would be as historic as the President's address — for agreement across all the parties that we would make the once off effort to get to the 1985-86 level and that after that we would agree to begin making progress along the lines I have suggested. I have also suggested it is time for Irish representatives to speak out more forcefully at international fora in the Community in relation to issues of debt and trade. It is important also that we begin to build the thinking of interdependency. Is it not extraordinary that you can buy war games for your video but you cannot hear about peace, development or interdependency or planetary consciousness or aggression or the old challenges to what I have described in the school system. Where is the space in our curriculum for building this new thinking?
I have not described this evening much  of what I have seen. I could have been prepared, as I have been, to see victims of torture in Central and Latin America and to see bodies that had been mutilated. But there was nothing that could have prepared me for what I saw and experienced during my time travelling within Somalia for nine days, which is a long time. When I saw those people moving towards me and could determine in their eyes the stages of death towards which they were approaching. I could feel there was a great dignity. People have spoken much about this. Another side of it was that those who were dying were going to be robbed of the capacity to grieve. In Somalian society they grieve for three days and on the seventh day celebrate a person's life. On the last day I spent in Somalia a mass grave was being created. A bus was collecting bodies like bundles of sticks and putting them into graves at 20 a time; the week before it was at 100 a time to one hole. The people will not know where their dead are buried. They will have the great psychic loss of not having been able to grieve and there will have been the memory of the civil war.
I would like to think that the great trauma which Somalia has gone through and from which I hope it will recover — I pay tribute to all the aid workers and particularly those who are working in the act of reconstruction — will lead to such a rage against military spending and against this dreadful, poisonous economics that we will have an economics of interdependence and the building of the mind of peace. From the Somalian man who put out his hand and said “Welcome to the holocaust. What is happening here is suicide”, I never heard “Ireland is only a small country”. I heard it in all the European debates here where we compared ourselves continually with the German economy, the French economy and the Italian economy.
Smallness had nothing to do with it, it was the quality of one's moral actions and the quality of one's moral response. I knew they would never forget the fact that the Minister for Foreign Affairs had  gone, that our President had gone, that others were going, that our aid agencies — the Red Cross, Trócaire, Concern and GOAL — were helping, etc. It was not a matter of saying we are only a small country, an appendage to DM land; it is the fact that what we are doing is of quality. It is this that must be built on.
I hope we can get all party agreement on this amendment, take the benchmark of 1985 and build from there. At the same time we should have development education in our schools and create a consciousness and generosity. If this is done, not only will there be beneficiaries in the south of our planet but we will have grown both morally and intellectually and, in the process, will be able to construct a new version of most of the subjects we teach in our schools.
Mr. Stafford Mr. Stafford
Mr. Stafford: I wish to share my time with Deputy Ben Briscoe.
An Ceann Comhairle Seán Treacy
An Ceann Comhairle: Is that satisfactory? Agreed.
Mr. Stafford Mr. Stafford
Mr. Stafford: Following the visit to Somalia by the previous speaker, all of us must know that an urgent and committed response to this problem is needed from the entire international community as well as from us. We cannot know at this time how much the visit of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and President Robinson has achieved. We hope that their deliberations will focus the attention of the rest of the western world on what is happening in Somalia so that something positive can be done. The entire island of Ireland can be proud of what these people tried to do. Every Irish person must say that at least we tried. However, trying and talking are not enough; we must set about putting in place the measures which will prevent these problems continuing.
Somalia is a small country with a population of approximately five million. A short time ago I met John O'Shea and other aid workers. I was touched by the fierce anger which has grown in them  because of the lack of progress, the fact that no matter how hard they try they are not getting anywhere and the slowness of the rest of the world to respond to the problems in Somalia. They are dreadfully angry at the military gangsters and gangs who operate in Somalia. They outlined this point very clearly. They spoke about very young people of ten and 14 years of age — I think they call themselves technicians — having guns. Deputy Higgins spoke about seeing children carrying guns bigger than themselves — these children are probably well fed by African standards — standing hundreds of yards from children their own age but half their size.
People say the first thing that has to be done is that a military presence has to be brought into Somalia. I am anti-military in my political beliefs. When I asked how a foreign army could be brought into another country, I was told to hell with that, we have got to get the food to the people. Because the people are so poor, there are no rules and no one controls anything; the gun seems to be mightier than anything else in that country. One can buy guns or bullets but one cannot get food. Seemingly that is one of the first problems the international community will have to face up to. One hears people asking, why do the people on the continent of Africa not do something about the problem; why do the Arabs not send more money, etc.? That is only a copout.
In her interview the other day President Robinson broke down while outlining the dreadful things she had seen in Somalia. Both she and the Minister for Foreign Affairs said that when you are in the midst of the problem you almost become immune to it and it is not until you move away that you realise the dreadful things that are happening. The Minister referred to it as a scandal: it is a horrific scandal. Because of our history, particularly the famine, we must be acutely aware of these problems. However, the Irish famine, with all its grossness, was nothing like this famine where every system in the country seems  to have broken down. Mogadishu is like a scene from a “Mad Max” film, with people running around and no organisation.
The Somalis are lovely people. A person who visited that country many years ago referred to them as the Irish of Africa because they are so open and friendly — which we like to think we are, and other races often say we are. We are considering ways of helping these people. One day last week, 470 people died in Baidoa which has a population of, I think, 10,000. We were all horrified a few days ago at the death of 230 people following a plane crash in Amsterdam. Rightly, this accident was covered by the newspapers and television, yet double that number of people die every day in a little place in Africa and it rarely receives any coverage.
During the week people rang up “Live-line” to ask why the British and American press were not interested in what is happening in Somalia. I do not know why. It may be that the problems in Somalia have much to do with the Cold War struggle. I think the Soviets gave them arms first; they gave them the hardware. When the two sides fell out, the USA gave them vast amounts of ammunition, tanks and armoured trucks. The Irish Army count every shell they fire because they are so expensive. The armaments used in Somalia are greater than we have ever seen. Even if the entire Irish Army were sent to Somalia their equipment would not compare with the equipment used there. The armaments trade has adopted a immoral attitude. These major nations never once worried about the damage they would do to societies in these countries.
I do not know a great deal about society in Somalia but I believe they are unique in that they are one tribe made up of different families. People often say that Africans cannot pull together because of tribal differences. For centuries the colonial powers did their best to ensure that the Africans fought one another and they created as much enmity as possible among them. It is farcical,  immoral and wrong to say that no matter what is done Africa will be Africa. We cannot allow Africa to continue as it is, we cannot stand back from it. As a small country we have a moral influence much greater than our size and we must continue to use that in every way we can. From the Government's point of view, we have given an extra £0.5 million assistance to Somalia in addition to the £650,000 aid already provided. There is extra aid coming from the EC, but Somalia needs such vast quantities of aid, I believe 60,000 tonnes of food a month, to keep their people fed. How do we get that food to them? The food cannot be transported by air transport. It must be transported by ships and heavy road vehicles. They are the only means of transport by which this country can receive food. We must do everything in our power to try to facilitate the transportation of food to Somalia.
Deputy Michael Higgins stated that the UN said that we should not point the finger at the larger countries. Some of the major powers have their own reasons for holding back. Sometimes very large organisations are unwieldy in their operations. I do not know if it would be possible, but Ireland by itself or through the EC should adopt a country like Somalia and make it part of our responsibility. We do great work in other neighbouring countries and it is urgently needed. If we could concentrate on and organise aid for Somalia, a small country, we would be doing a great job for humanity and it would prove that, at least, there are some Europeans who are prepared to help their African neighbours.
I understand the President during her visit to Somalia met some of the so-called warlords. On seeing photographs and newsreel films of them they appear to be very well fed. They said they would sit down and discuss a treaty or they might resign but, as we have seen in former Yugoslavia, words are very cheap, they can agree to anything but they do absolutely nothing. Unless we force them into doing something about it we will continue to read and see these dreadful pictures on television day after day. There is no  doubt that the distribution of aid particularly to the Baidoa region is very difficult. This was the area where most of the food was originally grown, but it was razed to the ground. Each person who decided they were going to be the dictator of Somalia decided if they could not have what was there they would burn or destroy all that was in the place. They made sure that their own people did not benefit from its resources. They deprived their own people of the produce of the finest part of Somalia. One cannot have food if there is no water. One small well in any part of Somalia can keep 10,000 to 15,000 people alive. How many wells would be necessary to keep the Somalis alive? Very few. How many people will die following this famine, because they are so deprived of any form of nourishment? How many families will be broken up never to come together again? We in this country can supply a certain amount of money and expertise to Somalia, we provide aid to other parts of Africa, but now we have to concentrate on providing aid for Somalia. We can pass on to the other nations in Europe what we learn from the famine in Somalia and how we handle the problems. I am not a very religious person, but when one considers what is happening in Somalia, one must trust in God.
I was horrified to see on American television a certain well known singer from this country deciding that the enemy was the man who is the head of my own religion. We are all the enemy. The enemy is certainly not the picture of the man she tore up. That behaviour does not help anyone. It would help if we put our own house in order, got together to do what the Minister, Deputy Andrews, did without any publicity. He was approached, he went off to Somalia to see the situation for himself and there were no cameras. His gesture will help the people in Somalia greatly. His address to the United Nations will go down as one of the great addresses by any Irish politician. This is how we should help Somalia; we should talk and try to prompt the wealthier nations of the world to do something. Otherwise we will look  back and say what a disgrace, what a dreadful thing we have witnessed and allowed to happen.
Proinsias De Rossa Proinsias De Rossa
Proinsias De Rossa: A Standing Order of the House indicates that I can speak at 8 p.m.
Acting Chairman Acting Chairman
Acting Chairman: Deputy Lyons must conclude by 8 o'clock.
Mr. Lyons Mr. Lyons
Mr. Lyons: Is mór an trua é, ach glacaim leis an ordú. In the few minutes available to me I want to mention also Ireland's bilateral aid programme generally. Recent programmes shown on television have demonstrated the extraordinary human misery at present being suffered in Somalia. Our President and the Minister for Foreign Affairs have achieved the task they undertook, which was to highlight for the entire world, particularly the nations of the developed world, the position obtaining there. In my view they have succeeded in doing that. We are grateful to them for having done so. More importantly, the people of Somalia are thankful to them.
It was an absolute disgrace and shame that responsible organisations such as the United Nations moved at such a snail's pace in responding to circumstances which developed in Somalia, not last month or the month before, but which had been fermenting over many years. It was indeed dreadful to learn that bureaucracy had been the principal cause of lack of movement to address the dreadful circumstances developing in Somalia.
One of my colleagues who spoke earlier has had wide experience of the Third World. My experience of it has been limited to a visit to the city of Windhoek to address the SADCC Conference when I represented Ireland there in 1990. Deputy Michael Higgins claims that the phrase because we are a small nation, is a preamble to every statement on Third World Aid. Because of the size of our economy, our contribution to the SADCC programme of action must necessarily be modest in comparison with those of larger, stronger economies. Our  bilateral aid programme is governed by the philosophy of long term sustainability along with the development of local skills, objectives which formed an integral part of that SADCC Conference I attended.
When I say that our bilateral aid programme concentrates mainly on countries in the SADCC region I should point out that that is primarily a technical assistance programme. Under the bilateral aid programmes I was indeed pleased to witness Irish personnel pass on their skills to train people in Namibia, particularly in Lesotho, that little land-locked country one cannot enter or leave after 10 o'clock in the evening. People there were being trained to cater for themselves by way of accountancy, technical training programmes and so on. In the hills outside Maseru in Lesotho locals knit the equivalent of our Aran sweaters with, of course, a Cork man in charge. There is also the breeding of Connemara ponies, irrigation schemes and the building of roads.
There appears to be a perception in the public mind — gained from many statements advocating an improvement in our monetary contribution to the bilateral aid programme — that monetary contributions constitute the most useful type of aid. I should like to avail of this sad opportunity, in the case of Somalia — while remembering that we witnessed the same events in the Sudan, Ethiopia and Bangladesh — to emphasise that we here have many links with all of those areas. It has been my experience that we play our part in helping the people of those countries to help themselves in the future. Indeed, the value of our voluntary workers' contributions is acknowledged by everybody. More important are the training, coaching and passing on of skills, including nursing skills, to the local people. All of those activities are being catered for under our bilateral aid programme so that we can be justly proud of our contribution in that area.
I must emphasise that violence, from whatever quarter, will not serve the cause  of peace and reconciliation. Indeed, it risks undermining the political process and puts in jeopardy some of the gains already made on that Continent. It must have been an eye-opener to all of us to witness the volume and capacity of armaments displayed in the streets by youngsters, aged 12 upwards, the more powerful the weaponry the better being one's chance of survival in the circumstances obtaining in Somalia. Is that the legacy the super-powers left behind in Somalia? If it is, shame on them; shame on them for running off and allowing circumstances to develop which were to the detriment of the people of that country.
My hope is that the generosity of our people will be sustained, as will the many tributes paid them by many developing countries, through our continuing support, distribution of talent and expertise in all areas where such is required. I hope that as part of the EC we will encourage the formulation of structures, especially in Somalia where there are none at present, where there is no proper system of government. This will entail a great deal of work and effort. Indeed, it can well be said that our Department of Foreign Affairs, not just at present but throughout the years when our economy was not as powerful or as strong as others, played their part, pro rata, more than many wealthier economies worldwide.
I hope that that great contribution on the part of our people will continue. Molaim an méid atá déanta agus á dheanamh agus tá súil agam go mbeidh toradh ar an iarracht ón tír seo agus ó na Teachtaí agus ón Uachtarán a chuaigh go dtí Somalia le déanaí.
Proinsias De Rossa Proinsias De Rossa
Proinsias De Rossa: My party have put down an amendment to the Fine Gael motion which we feel does not go far enough. Obviously we support the principle which Fine Gael are proposing, i.e., that there be a phased increase in the Government's contribution to Overseas Development Aid. We propose that the Dáil should note that we have never reached even half the United Nations  target and that Ireland rates the lowest of 18 OECD member states. The amendment states that we believe that hunger and famine can only be defeated by substantial increases in the level of transfers of money, resources and expertise from the developed to the less developed world. It urges all parties in the Dáil to agree on a phased equal increase in ODA so that the UN target is reached within five years. We further call for this to be enshrined in legislation so that any future Government would find it difficult to renege on such a commitment. Further noting the current appalling crisis in Somalia, we welcome the courageous decision of President Robinson to visit Somalia in order to focus attention on the need for urgent international action to combat famine there. We commend the prompt reaction of voluntary organisations and the generosity of many ordinary citizens in responding to the crisis and we call on the Government to match pound for pound money raised in this way for Somalia.
The harrowing photographs and graphic television film we have seen of the plight of the people of Somalia in recent weeks has brought home to us all the ugly reality of human existence in much of the Third World where permanent hunger is a fact of life and death is often a welcome release. The poignant scenes of emaciated and starving people — men, women and children — which so moved President Robinson puts our own economic and social problems in a different perspective. What we have all seen on our television screens in the comfort of our own homes must remind us that by the standards of the unfortunate people of Somalia we are very well off and that we, therefore, have a moral and political responsibility to respond to their plight and to offer what assistance we can. Our eyes have been opened to what President Robinson described as “the greatest tragedy facing the world today”: we must now respond by opening our hearts and our pockets to those who are suffering in Somalia and other parts of the developing world.
 I welcome the fact that the first Private Members' Business of the new Dáil session has been devoted to Overseas Development Aid. It is, I hope, a sign of the new priority which all parties in this House will now devote to the topic. However, I consider that the Fine Gael motion is rather weak; that the timetable for the achievement of the UN target of 0.7 per cent of GNP is too long and I am disappointed that it does not deal with the particularly urgent need for emergency measures to deal with the Somalian tragedy.
The proposal in our amendment for a five-year timetable is a more appropriate target, especially in view of the fact that successive Governments have, in the past, pledged to meet it and then broken the promises. I believe that our suggestion that it should be written into legislation to make it more difficult for any future Government to renege on the commitment is a reasonable one, and I believe that there would be widespread support for our proposal that the Government should respond to the particular urgency of the situation in Somalia by matching, pound for pound, the money raised by voluntary agencies.
As we approach the end of the 20th century, one in every five people on this planet — 1,000 million — continues to live in absolute poverty and one million children under the age of five years die every month in the developing world from famine, under-nutrition and preventable diseases.
In Africa alone 30 million people face the threat of starvation. Latin America has suffered an unprecedented cholera epidemic due to lack of basic hygiene, health and sanitary facilities. Large scale flooding in Bangladesh and other coastal regions of Asia occurs with increasing regularity due to environmental destruction and lack of basic infrastructure.
Developing countries are crippled by international debt which prevents investment in vital areas such as health and education. Tackling issues such as illiteracy and AIDS prevention is made almost impossible in many cases. The  latest figures show that in the 95 poorest countries 25 per cent more was spent on servicing international debt than on education and health services combined.
Throughout the developing world scarce resources are being wasted on ethnic and regional conflicts with arms supplied from the rich “North”, while undemocratic regimes enslave and exploit their populations, often with the blessing of the developed world. More than 40 years after the enactment of the UN Declaration on Human Rights and two centuries after the French Revolution, the idea that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” remains more an aspiration than a statement of fact.
The past five years have, however, seen an unprecedented change in international relations. The Cold War has ended and military spending has stopped rising in most developed countries, but unfortunately not in all. Proxy wars fought out between opposing military super powers in the developing world are drawing to a close. There is an increasing will for democratic change among the people of the developing countries.
The countries of the “rich” world must grasp this opportunity to increase funding and assistance to the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The greatest challenge facing humanity as we approach the 21st century is to devise a plan and campaign for a new international economic order. This does not imply neglect of poverty and injustice in Ireland or the EC. On the contrary, the struggle for social justice at home is identical with that in the world as a whole.
This debate is taking place on the day on which the President is reporting to the Secretary General of the United Nations on the outcome of her trip. The people of this country have been quite rightly proud of the courage shown by President Robinson in wanting to visit Somalia and  her genuine compassion for those enduring such suffering there.
While high profile visits like this can play a major role in highlighting the suffering, and mobilising international emergency, the President would be the first to admit they cannot solve the problem. The sort of suffering now being experienced by the people of Somalia can be found in many other parts of Africa and Asia — albeit in less severe form. Hunger and famine can only be defeated by substantial increases in the levels of transfers of money, resources and expertise from the developed to the less developed world.
The record of success of Irish Governments in relation to ODA is dismal. We have never reached even half the United Nations target and our Overseas Development Aid expressed as a percentage of GNP is now at the same level as in 1980. We have the poorest record of any of the 18 members of the OECD. We give the equivalent of 2.5p per person per day in official aid. The Minister tried to compare our contribution with that of the United States, whose ODA is 0.19 per cent of their GNP. In gross terms that would be many hundreds of millions more than we contribute but it is a bit unfair, given that the United States have to carry the burden of fighting wars in the Gulf and maintaining arms supplies to dictatorships around the world. They are really making a very good contribution in protecting the world from whatever it perceives to be the enemy, now that communism is dead.
Mr. Lyons Mr. Lyons
Mr. Lyons: They would be delighted to hear the Deputy.
Proinsias De Rossa Proinsias De Rossa
Proinsias De Rossa: I am speaking with tongue in cheek. The way they spend money on arms is a disgrace and they have no compunction in supplying arms to states and regimes which oppress their people and keep them in poverty.
Surely now would be an appropriate time for the Government to respond to  the magnificent gesture of the President by a bold initiative on ODA? I would urge the Minister to invite the Opposition parties in the Dáil to enter into discussions with a view to agreeing a timetable to bring our ODA up to the United Nations target within five years. The President's initiative should mark the beginning of a new and more generous era in State aid to the Third World. We should be justifiably proud of the magnificent response of the Irish people and especially the voluntary agencies, but this should not be used as a reason to justify a parsimonious approach by the Government.
President Robinson, speaking on US television this morning, called for a tidal wave of justice for Somalia. We are a relatively small country and if we cannot provide a tidal wave let us at least initiate a substantial ripple. If other countries do likewise perhaps it will turn into a tidal wave.
We must remember that the flow of money and resources between Ireland and the Third World is not one way traffic. Indeed, Deputy Michael Higgins has already pointed out the substantial transfer of resources from the Third World to the developed world. That is also true in relation to Ireland. Despite the level of deprivation in the Third World, Ireland is a net beneficiary from its contacts with the developing countries. In 1987, for example, earnings by Irish semi-State companies from consultancy and technical assistance contracts with developing countries reached a total of £86 million and have remained at a similar level since then. Ireland is therefore earning at least twice what it provides in official development aid, and this does not include the earnings of private companies.
In addition, we are quick to demand assistance from the wealthier countries in the European Community. European Structural Funds, at around £600 million per year, equal about 2.6 per cent of Ireland's GNP. That is more than 16 times our percentage ODA contribution.  It is unacceptable for the Irish Government to demand that the wealthier EC states provide greater support for the poor of the Community while at the same time we restrict the aid we provide to the poorest countries in the world. Indeed, it is time the European Community adopted a more open and beneficial approach to the Third World.
Central to a more enlightened EC approach to the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America is provision of greater access to developing countries' produce in western markets, fundamental improvement in terms of trade for the less developed countries and cancellation or rescheduling of their debt.
I should like to conclude by drawing attention to a submission which Trocaire made to Government on Ireland's development co-operation policy. It is a very well produced document and includes a range of recommendations to Government, every one of which I support wholeheartedly. Anyone who has an interest in this area should read this report. It includes recommendations on development co-operation policy, the role of NGOs, the general issues of overseas development aid, co-financing and disaster relief, developments in education, trade and debt. There are a range of organisations in the NGO area who do great work in developing countries, but Trocaire, which is a specifically Roman Catholic development agency, are doing an excellent job in helping to educate the public, and young people in particular, about the issues involved in development aid.
I agree wholeheartedly with the Minister for Foreign Affairs when he stated on television last night that the greatest single problem for Somalia is the fact that it does not have any oil resources. If it had oil resources 500,000 US troops would be mobilised on its borders ready to help, but unfortunately, for the people of Somalia it has no oil resources.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe Mr. J. O'Keeffe
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: One of the problems  of the Fine Gael side is that so many people wish to speak in the short time available that we must divide our time. Therefore, I ask that my colleagues, Deputies Enright and Kenny be allowed to share my time.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle Jim Tunney
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Is that agreed? Agreed.
Mr. Enright Mr. Enright
Mr. Enright: I concur with Deputy De Rossa's final point, if Africa had oil resources much more aid would have been ploughed into the area.
As a nation we suffered the deprivations of famine where millions of our people died. For that reason alone we should take a lead in helping the people of Somalia. We should be to the forefront in putting forward our views and encouraging those people. We should use our moral authority to persuade other nations to contribute towards alleviating the famine in Somalia. It is with considerable regret that this House has allowed itself to be used as an instrument of reducing aid to the Third World, from .62 per cent in 1986 to .17 per cent in 1992. Last year alone there was a drop of £2.6 million compared to 1991. Our President has to a large extent redeemed us by visiting Africa and trying to highlight the position at first hand. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Michael Higgins have also visited Africa.
I visited Africa some years ago and at that time the position was extremely bad, but it has deteriorated even further since then. I came away with a number of lasting memories from my visit to Tanzania. I was shocked and horrified at the way people were living there. I was appalled and upset by it. However, as an Irishman I was proud of the efforts of our people working in Tanzania. Their contribution and generosity restored not alone my pride in young people, but my belief in human nature. That fine work was being carried out by Irish people of  all religious persuasions and by people from many different countries.
To some extent our moral authority has declined because we have reduced our level of support. However, even at this late stage we should reassert our authority and use our influence, as a small nation which suffered famine in the past, on the other bigger nations. Let us hope that a great deal of the money which is being spent on armaments will be channelled in the direction of keeping people alive.
Finally, the Government should match pound for pound every pound given by people to voluntary organisations. That should be our goal.
Mr. Kenny Mr. Kenny
Mr. Kenny: The Government's response to the motion in the name of Deputy Jim O'Keeffe is far removed from the stench of gangrene and decaying limbs, the listless look in the eyes of millions of children and the sweet sickly smell of impending death in refugee camps across the continent of Africa. At a time when the first citizen of this land, a native of my county, in a move reminiscent of Pope John Paul II's gesture to the men of violence, when he appealed on his knees for an end to violence, appealed on her knees to the developed world to come to the assistance of millions of poor families impoverished by greed and war, the Government's response to the Fine Gael motion is so bland and removed from reality. Mr. Cecil W. Smith said that The Great Hunger had created a tradition, a feeling and an instinct in Irish people throughout the world to help those who are less fortunate than themselves. That instinct is very strong in our people today. We can take pride in the committed efforts of volunteers who have given up their quality of life here to work with unfortunate people in Third World countries.
Fighting has broken out again in Liberia. The SMA Fathers from Cork have a programme of work there for a number of years. They need £6,000 to set  up a printing press and have undertaken to do all the printing necessary to educate the primary school children in the capital of Monrovia and indeed throughout Liberia. They have been turned down by the Department of Foreign Affairs. I hope the Department will reconsider their application. Throughout the length and breadth of the country the SMA Fathers have collected unwanted goods and equipment and shipped it to Monrovia. They aim to take guns from the hands of children by encouraging them back into schools and giving them a basic education. They have the printing press but not the facilities to run it. They have made a formal appeal to the Department of Foreign Affairs. I hope that for the sake of the £6,000 required this beneficial educational facility will not be lost. The Minister of State, Deputy Daly, is probably aware of this.
Mr. Daly Mr. Daly
Mr. Daly: I am not. If the Deputy sends me the details I will have it reviewed.
Mr. Kenny Mr. Kenny
Mr. Kenny: The application has already been formally submitted to the Department. I will forward a copy to the Minister of State. I am sure that many functions that take place throughout the country cost more than £6,000. I am assured by the SMA Fathers that if they have this facility it will not be possible to measure the benefit of getting children back to school.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe Mr. J. O'Keeffe
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: I thank those who contributed to the debate. I had hoped for a positive commitment from the Government. I am utterly disappointed and dejected at the bland reaction of the Government to a very serious motion at a very important time in our history. The motion seeks a recommitment to the UN target of 0.7 per cent, and a commitment to a financial framework to achieve that within seven years. Deputy De Rossa suggested five years. I would accept five years, if everybody would agree to it, but I suggested seven years because I hoped  to induce the Government to agree to that timeframe. All we have got are bland banal phrases from the Government but no commitment. That is why I am utterly dejected and frustrated.
Do the Government realise the consequence of their rejection? I am not pointing the finger at the Minister of State, Deputy Daly. I watched him as he laboured through his script. I know he would have liked to agree to my motion, but his Government will not let him. I am certainly not pointing the finger at his Minister, Deputy Andrews, who has said and done the right things and whose heart is in the right place, but even he cannot get his hard-hearted stoney-faced Goverment to agree to discharge our obligations to reach the UN target. I am afraid that as members of that Government, they have to share the responsibility. It is not for me to say what will be the consequences of our failure to produce the moneys that we are morally committed to produce, or how many people will die as a consequence, or how many projects will not go ahead as a consequence. I will leave that to the Members on the Government side to deal with.
Deputy Stafford spoke from the heart about the problems of Somalia and elsewhere in Africa. I accept every word he said but yet he concluded by saying, “we must talk and talk and prompt action from wealthier nations”. How can we expect a response from other nations, when we are not prepared to respond?
Mr. M. Higgins Mr. M. Higgins
Mr. M. Higgins: Hear, hear.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe Mr. J. O'Keeffe
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: How can we ask other people to put their hands in their pockets when we are not prepared to put our hands in our pockets? I can get cross about this issue and, perhaps, it is because I come from Skibbereen. The people of Skibbereen are known as the “donkey eaters” because in the last century the town of Skibbereen suffered more than any other part of the country  from the Famine. It is still a folk memory there. Outside the town we still have the famine graves in the Abbey. In the last century in Ireland we had black '47. In the last decade we had Ethiopia and this year we have Somalia. Next year we will have Mozambique
The Skibbereen of the last century is the Baidoa of today. With that memory of a time when there was plenty of food to feed our people, do we stand back and refuse to put our hands in our pockets? That is what the Government are doing and that is why I feel so utterly dejected and depressed at their response to this motion which was not introduced for political reasons. It was introduced in the hope that it could get the parties in this House to agree to its terms or something similar. We are giving the back of the hand tonight to the people who are starving and dying in Africa. That pains and hurts me. We share the guilt and the responsibility in doing that. The Scrooge like attitude of the Government is contributing to what is happening in Africa today.
Last Sunday I attended a harvest thanksgiving celebration. One of the hymns sung that night — and it is appropriate here — was as follows: In the just reward of labour, God's will is done/In the help we give our neighbour, God's will is done/In our worldwide task of caring for the hungry and despairing, /In the harvest we are sharing, God's will is done.
What do we find in our papers today, in the Irish Independent on Monday? A whole nation has been destroyed. What is our reaction? Look at the tables in the Sunday Tribune. We find that contributions  in official aid are as follows: Australia £955 million, Belgium £889 million, Denmark over £1,000 million, Norway £1,200 million and Sweden over £2,000 million. What is our contribution? It is £57 million. We are less than a third of the way towards our commitment to the UN target.
Yet again on Monday we hear that the Government will put pressure on the EC for aid. Have we not got a brass neck asking anybody to give aid to Africa when we are not willing to pay our share, when we are not willing to pay our dues on foot of a commitment that we freely and voluntarily entered into over 20 years ago?
I am not saying that the Government of which I was a part in the eighties can be fully absolved from blame, but at least we made an effort. When I took over responsibility for overseas aid in 1981 the level of aid was .18 per cent. Painfully slowly and tediously, with support from the Labour Party, we pushed it up until in 1986 it reached .26 per cent. If we had continued that rate of progression we would now be over half way towards the UN target. Instead we are away back to .17 per cent.
We should be ashamed of this record. Every one of us is responsible unless we keep pushing day in, day out, until we recommit ourselves to the UN target, until we put our hands in our pockets and give in official aid what is needed, what the starving of the Third World deserve and what we as a country with our history should do as a very minimum.
Mr. Sheehan Mr. Sheehan
Mr. Sheehan: And that is peanuts.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 66; Níl, 56.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Dempsey and Clohessy; Níl, Deputies Kenny and Howlin.
Amendment declared carried.
An Ceann Comhairle Seán Treacy
An Ceann Comhairle: The question now is, “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to”.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe Mr. J. O'Keeffe
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: I must record my  disagreement but I am not going to put the matter to a vote.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Dáil Éireann 423 Private Members' Business. Overseas Development Aid: Motion.