Thursday, 25 February 1993
Dáil Éireann Debate
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): The amount provided in the North-South and Anglo-Irish Co-operation subhead, subhead F, of the Department of Foreign Affairs Vote is used to assist organisations involved in reconcilation work and in efforts to create better understanding between people in both parts of Ireland and between Ireland and Britain.
An amount of £115,000 was allocated originally to the subhead last year as the 1992 Estimates provision for this purpose. The provision in this year's Estimates is exactly the same. However in the course of last year, certain costs relating to the Anglo-Irish political talks which took place during 1992 were also ascribed to the subhead. The ascribing of these costs to subhead F in 1992, which accounts for the variation between the original allocation and the provisional outturn figure of £335,000 for that year, had no bearing on the amount which was actually available for distribution as grants under this subhead in 1992. The amount available for distribution in 1993 will be exactly the same.
I commend very valuable activities of organisations engaged in North-South and Anglo-Irish co-operation. Despite the current very difficult budgetary situation, the 1993 allocation to the subhead has been maintained at the level of the original 1992 Estimates provision. I very much hope that the budgetary circumstances next year will be such as to permit an interest allocation to be made to this subhead.
The Programme for a Partnership Government includes a commitment to increase Ireland's Official Development Aid to 0.2 per cent in 1993 and by 0.05 per cent each year thereafter so as to make steady progress towards achieving the UN goal of 0.7 per cent of GNP. In compliance with this commitment, the Book of Estimates contains provisions for £53 million for Official Development Assistance.
The programme includes as a priority for an expanded aid budget the intention to expand the scope of activities of the Agency for Personal Service Overseas to increase the number of Irish people working in developing countries. Accordingly, Subhead D of vote 39 — Agency for Personal Services Overseas (Grant-in-Aid) — has been increased.
The programme also includes as a priority an increase in voluntary contributions to UN agencies such as UNICEF, UNDP, and UNHCR. Accordingly, Subhead G of Vote 39 — Voluntary Contributions to Development Agencies — has been increased.
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