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Úsáidimid fianáin ionas go bhfaighidh tú an taithí is fearr ar ár láithreán agus comhlíonaimid ár gceanglais Cosanta Sonraí ag an am céanna. Lean ort gan do chuid socruithe a athrú, agus gheobhaidh tú fianáin, nó athraigh do chuid socruithe fianáin ag aon tráth.

Níl an leagan Gaeilge ar fáil go fóill, más maith leat an leagan Béarla a léamh féach thíos.

Launch of Irish Aid Report 2018

I’m delighted to see so many of you here at the launch of the annual report for 2018.

One of my highlights for 2018 was the process of consultation for our new development policy. In public meetings in Limerick, Galway and Sligo it was great to meet so many people dedicated to international development, and to see the enthusiasm, creativity and ambition for the role which Ireland should play.

This process of consultation greatly benefitted A Better World, the statement of that new policy. It helped us to check that we were focusing on the right priorities. It gave us excellent new ideas and suggestions. Perhaps most importantly, it ensured that A Better World is not merely a government strategy. It is a strategy which is a collective effort, and which all of us – students, businesses, NGOs, the media, academia - can work together to implement.

The launch of today’s annual report is also about communication, and consultation.

As an organisation responsible for spending taxpayers’ money, it is vital for us to demonstrate accountability and transparency. Equally, as an organisation committed to learning, it is important to be open to challenge, to new ideas, and to show a constant commitment to improve.

We have taken on board feedback about previous annual reports, and introduced a number of innovations. We have expanded our information on key multilateral partners, notably the UN, EU, and International Financial Institutions. We have also for the first time introduced a single overarching theme to the report, to highlight our efforts in one particular area.

It seemed entirely fitting to us that the first theme that we would focus on is education. A commitment to education has been at the heart of Ireland’s own story of development. It has been the crucial building block in our evolution from a country of need and emigration, to a thriving knowledge based economy.

It has also been an experience that we have shared with others, and a key component of our development work for decades. Building on this expertise, education is an area we will continue to prioritise in a Better World. In September 2018, the Tánaiste pledged that Ireland would invest at least €250 million in education over the next five years.

We have already begun delivering on this pledge through concrete commitments. In March 2018, I announced that Ireland would double our support for the Global Partnership for Education over the period 2018-2020. We followed this up with financing of €10.5 million to the Global Partnership in 2018, and in December, we hosted the Global Partnership for Education Executive Board Meeting in Dublin.

Some of those in greatest need of educational support are children in crisis contexts. With the average length of a protracted crisis now over nine years, entire generations are at risk of missing out on an education – vital to both their own future prospects, and the prospects of their countries. I am personally committed to this priority and in April 2018, I became a Political Champion for Education in Emergencies. This year, I also became a Champion for Gen U, an initiative led by UNICEF which aims to ensure that every young person aged between 10 and 24 will be in school, training, or age-appropriate decent employment by 2030.

As well as promoting education in other countries, it is also important to bear in mind the need to educate students in Ireland about the importance, and impact, of development work. During 2018 the Irish Aid Centre in Dublin celebrated 10 years of school workshops and its educational outreach programme, with more than 100,000 people taking part in the Centre’s educational outreach events. Activities like this continue to ensure that Ireland’s 15-24 age group are the best informed in Ireland on international development and Ireland’s development education programme.

I am also delighted to announce that we will be allocating over €1.2 million to the 2020 development education grant scheme which will be launched on the Irish Aid web-site tomorrow. This highly regarded programme supports global citizenship activities across Ireland and promotes awareness and understanding of our work on development co-operation as well as the SDGs. We partner with primary and secondary schools and universities as well as youth & community groups across the country. Through this work, people are supported to become informed and engaged global citizens, reflecting on and working together to address some of the big challenges which impact on our world today – such as climate change, poverty and inequality and global hunger.

I am also delighted to see that for the first time in a number of years, the grants will now be provided on a multi-annual basis.

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your engagement over the past year, both in the development of the new policy, and for our ongoing collaboration together as we seek to implement it.

We understand the benefits of communication, and consultation, and want to maintain this rich and fruitful dialogue with you.

Thank you.