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30 June 2005 Edition

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Make poverty history

When the Taoiseach attends the UN Summit this autumn, he must not again make aid commitments he has no intention of keeping. Boasting that Ireland is the fourth wealthiest state in the world does not tally with excuses for breaking his promise to allocate 0.7% of GNP to Overseas Development Aid spending by 2007.

Ireland should aspire to be top of the generousity league. Why should we be satisfied with reaching only 0.5%, possibly but not definitely by 2007, when other countries now give 1%.

Under the Fianna Fail/PD Government, despite the much vaunted Celtic Tiger, Ireland has failed to commit just over a half of one percent of our income per year to eradicating global poverty. To make matters worse Bertie Ahern misled people in the developing world to get votes for a seat on the UN Security Council.

We live in a world of deep inequality. Six-hundred million children live in absolute poverty. One child dies every three seconds from hunger and preventable disease. Contrast this with the obscene, unspendable wealth amassed and wasted by an elite few. The poorest countries' share of world trade has dropped by almost half since 1981 and now is as low as 0.4%. Under present world trade rules, poor countries must pay back about 14 times what they receive in aid.

Obscene amounts of money continue are spent on militarisation. We need a global peace dividend through the diversion of arms spending to spending on human security - food, shelter, clean water, access to healthcare, education, dignified employment and a living wage, and full human rights.

Nelson Mandela summed up the situation adequately when he said recently that: "Poverty is not natural. It is man made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings."

As the leaders of the world's richest countries gather in Scotland for the G8 Summit, millions of ordinary people all over the world demand trade justice, total debt cancellation and more and better aid for the word's poorest countries. Sinn Féin is committed to global social and economic justice and party activists will gather with other this evening in Dublin to support the Make Poverty History campaign.

Human rights are universal. Poverty and hunger are human rights violations.

As republicans, as socialists, and as internationalists, we are fully committed to making poverty history — for everyone on this island, and for our brothers and sisters in every nation.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1