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Government: No to free antigen tests, but yes to €2.5 billion in overseas aid

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, has confirmed to the Dáil that Ireland is committed to spending €2.5 billion on Overseas Development Aid by 2030.  

The announcement comes just a day after the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, confirmed that government would not be making antigen tests available for free to the general population, despite pleas from some politicians that this will create severe financial hardship for a significant proportion of the population.

Minister Coveney was asked to clarify and confirm the government’s position on reaching the €2.5 billion target by Social Democrat TD, Gary Gannon.

As part of his response the Minister confirmed the government’s commitment to increase national spending, while going on to state that the Department of Foreign Affairs is currently reviewing and building systems that will enable Ireland’s development programme to “grow further” in the years ahead.

Minister Coveney further noted that this includes working in co-ordination with the many other Departments and bodies who are tasked with spending official development assistance.

It was also confirmed that the Department of Foreign Affairs continues to work with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and other Departments through the interdepartmental committee on international development, on how a growing ODA allocation can be managed most effectively across government.

This will include “further building” of spending systems and increasing staff capacity in order to allocate overseas aid more widely.

Minister Coveney also made it clear that, “we are trying to build capacity to ensure we can spend a lot of extra money every year.”

ODA allocated funds for 2021 to 2022 increased by €176 million on the previous year.

This means that in overall terms, budget 2022 saw €1.044 billion allocated to ODA.

This was the highest-ever amount allocated by any Government.

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