The Taoiseach becomes embroiled in a dispute over Irish aid funding between comedian Tommy Tiernan and Secretary of State Simon Coveney

Taoiseach Micheál Martin is embroiled in a dispute between Secretary of State Simon Coveney and comedian Tommy Tiernan over food poverty.

The comedian slammed the government for failing to meet its target of 0.7 percent of gross national income (GNI) for foreign aid abroad in recent days on his podcast.

Mr Coveney hit back on Wednesday, speaking from New York, where he is currently attending the UN General Assembly.

He said the pledge to meet the target stands and said the “increased contribution” for foreign aid will be a “very large sum” in next week’s budget.

Tiernan criticized the government’s €50 million contribution to addressing malnutrition in the Horn of Africa, saying “that’s not enough”.

Last night, Secretary of State Simon Coveney announced that Ireland had made the financial pledge in response to an appeal from US aid agency USAID and Unicef.

Unicef, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and USAID launched the Urgency Initiative, which aims to improve the well-being of millions of children.

The US has contributed €200 million to the program, while other nations have been called upon to pledge an additional €250 million.

Announcing Ireland’s contribution, Mr Coveney said international intervention will “save lives”.

“Ireland today pledged €50 million in partnership with USAID and Unicef ​​to respond to child malnutrition in the Horn of Africa,” he wrote in a Twitter post.

“With drought, poverty and conflict, famine is almost certain. This will save the lives of many children.”

Taking to social media this morning, however, RTÉ chat show host Tiernan said the funds pledged are not enough and “if they wanted to” First World leaders could eliminate hunger in the developing world.

Mr Tiernan recently returned from a trip to Somalia with the Irish Emergency Alliance.

“That’s what they do, they confuse the public with numbers and figures and charts, the truth behind those statistics is that it’s not enough money and they know it’s not enough,” he said.

“They could give what is needed if they wanted, they could address global food structures at the UN.

“If they wanted, they could address crop dependency and market intervention if they wanted. They don’t.

“The money is there, a Fine Gael government first pledged in 1974 to allocate 0.7 per cent of GNI (Gross National Income) in foreign aid overseas… we’re still waiting and a child will die of hunger today.”

Now the Taoiseach has said Mr Tiernan’s comments were not “fair criticism”.

He said it’s “not that easy” to just give countries more money.

“I myself have always been cautious about using percentages of GNI and GDP as a barometer, because it depends very much on a high level of growth, for example.

“I would say that of course there is always room for improvement, but the notion that Ireland doesn’t want to help is not true. Ireland wants to help, Ireland has been helping in many, many countries for a long, long time.”

He said Ireland had “already” made commitments to reduce food poverty.

“Ireland is historically one of the stronger countries in terms of nutrition and global nutrition programs.

“Ireland is viewed positively in the developing world as a serious country, not only in terms of financial allocation, but also in terms of how best to change systems, from governance, women and conflict to the resource endowment of those areas,” said martin .

He said sometimes money from Ireland to other countries “isn’t well received”.

“Sometimes that doesn’t go over well in recipient countries, in terms of governance issues, which I think now need to be given more and more consideration when we allocate funds and so on, so we want to see improvements in governance.”

Write the in the Sunday independentOn September 18, Mr. Tiernan described his experiences with local people at risk of starvation.

He visited a camp with “tens of thousands of people” whose “crops have failed and their animals have died.”

“Hundreds of thousands of children could die before the end of the year, and they will all become victims of logistics. There is food, there just isn’t the global will to bring it to them. Governments have other priorities,” he wrote.

“The Government of Ireland has broken its promises for years.”

He said that in 1974 the government promised to allocate 0.7 percent of our gross national income to foreign aid.

“Successive governments have all made the same commitment, but here we are 48 years later and still no delivery. Germany does, Sweden does. Norway and Denmark do – 0.7 percent.

“That would do. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? It seems such a small amount, but the work that money can do is colossal. It can stop unnecessary suffering and death.”

He added: “The people of Ireland can be proud of the work Trocaire is doing in Somalia. Proud that Trócaire stayed after the civil war in 1993, when all other humanitarian organizations left Somalia. Stayed and founded hospitals, stayed and founded schools. Remained so much that people in western Somalia refer to Trócaire as “our mother”.

Now let “the Government of Ireland do something that we too can be proud of,” Mr Tiernan said. The Taoiseach becomes embroiled in a dispute over Irish aid funding between comedian Tommy Tiernan and Secretary of State Simon Coveney

Fry Electronics Team

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