The Government is to rebrand its overseas development programme from Irish Aid in an attempt to remove the “negative connotations” for the recipient countries, the junior minister responsible has said.
From next year, the programme will be called the Government of Ireland Development Programme Overseas.
Domestically, the name Irish Aid will gradually be phased out, although not immediately as there are a lot of people who are familiar with the term.
Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora Colm Brophy said the name Irish Aid “isn’t really an appropriate descriptor” for the type of work it carries out.
“Our engagement is much broader, it’s much deeper, it’s not just humanitarian aid,” he told The Irish Times.
Mr Brophy added that there are also “negative connotations” with the word “aid” that he wanted to remove.
“Sometimes it can be very difficult in terms of developing good, strong bi-lateral relations if you arrive as the aid minister from a western European country into another country,” he said.
“A lot of these countries, while they have a lot of problems in the immediate term, they’re also proud countries within their own right. And I think it doesn’t accurately reflect the relationship and it is, as a term, problematic, the notion of aid.”
Asked if that meant there was a need to change the ministerial title, Mr Brophy said he is “not hung up on that”, adding that they primarily use the “development” part of the ministerial title when abroad.
“The main thing is to make sure the programme name… is encompassing and inclusive,” he added.
Mr Brophy was speaking in advance of a meeting with civil society partners on Tuesday, at which the priorities for 2023 will be outlined.
The amount of money the Government has allocated to overseas development has increased in recent years.
The Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) fund was given a budget of more than €1.2 billion for 2023, an increase of €177 million, and the highest ever allocated.
The Government has committed to allocating 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI) to the programme by 2030.
Data released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) last year showed Ireland had reached 0.31 per cent. The 2022 figure will be released in April.
Mr Brophy said there are a number of priorities for next year, such as developing climate finance, assisting the Horn of Africa which is facing a famine, addressing gender equality and education, as well as enhancing the programme to provide more than just immediate assistance.
Mr Brophy said Covid had caused a “major setback” in the area of gender equality in education.
“Schools closed and, unfortunately in the developing world, children spend less time in school. A lot of the girls didn’t return [after Covid]. Whereas boys had a higher return rate,” he said, adding that the programme would “redouble” its efforts in addressing that.