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Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon


An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD, officially opened the Irish Aid Volunteering and Information Centre on O’Connell Street, Dublin on Tuesday 22nd January. The Taoiseach was joined at the opening by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern TD, and Michael Kitt TD, Minister of State for Overseas Development. Speaking ahead of the opening, the Taoiseach said:

“During my visit to Tanzania and South Africa last week, I saw for myself the positive impact that Ireland – the Government, and NGOs and missionaries and our volunteers – is having in crucial areas such as healthcare, housing, education and the fight against HIV and AIDS. As our aid programme grows in the coming years, the Centre will engage the public in this effort and on ways in which the individual can become involved.”

The Minister for Foreign Affairs added: “The opening of this Centre is the fulfilment of a commitment made in the Programme for Government and also in the White Paper on Irish Aid published in September 2006, to raise awareness of development issues and make more and better information on development-related volunteering available.”

Ribbon Cutting

Irish Aid is Ireland's official programme of assistance to the poorest countries in the world. The Irish Aid Volunteering & Information Centre is a state of the art, multi-media exhibition space, designed to raise awareness of development issues and the role of Irish Aid in tackling global poverty.

The exhibits give some informative and frightening statistics. For instance, women account for two thirds of the worlds poor, earn only 10% of the worlds income and own less than 1% of the worlds property.

Visitors will be encouraged to think of ways in which they can make a personal contribution to development whether through volunteering, purchasing Fairtrade products or taking steps towards sustainable living. A specially designed educational programme is available in the Centre's workshop for second-level school groups. 50 school groups from across Ireland are booked-in to visit the Centre in the first half of 2008.

Press Officer, Sharon Lennon (no relation) told me;

”Detailed practical information on development-related volunteering, both in Ireland and abroad, will be available at interactive computer kiosks in the Centre. Irish Aid staff will be on hand to provide initial information, advice and briefing sessions for potential volunteers, in conjunction with Comhlámh and other organisations.”

A lively programme of events for the public has been developed with partner organisations to raise awareness of international development themes. Events are planned around international days such as World AIDS day, Africa Day and International Human Rights Day. More information on these and future events can found on the Irish Aid Web site,

Ms. Lennon says, “ The purpose of the centre is so that Ireland can play it’s part in realising “The Millennium Goals” (or MDGs). In 2000 world leaders from developed and developing countries adopted the MDGs at the United Nations Summit.”

The plan is to achieve the goals by 2015. They are;

  • Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
  • Achieve universal primary education.
  • Promote gender equality and empower women.
  • Reduce child mortality.
  • Improve material health.
  • Combat HIV and AIDS, Malaria and other diseases.
  • Ensure environmental sustainability.
  • Develop a global partnership for development.

The renovation of the Centre (which was the old Eircom building) was managed by the Office of Public Works (OPW) and the Architect is Tom de Paor.

To download the full White Paper on Irish aid go to: White Paper on Irish aid

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