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Financial Resolution No. 2: General (Resumed)

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Snippet Contents:

He must rank as the one of the least effective Ministers the House has ever seen. From arch-critic of Government spending to internal Government commentator and critic of the Taoiseach, he has certainly moved seamlessly from one role to another. Yesterday proved, however, that he has a long way to go to complete the transition to becoming a competent Minister. He did not propose a single new initiative in the transport area. Worse, he is overseeing a substantial reduction in expenditure on sport.
I referred previously to the United Kingdom's response to the British team's performance at the Atlanta Olympics when it secured only one gold medal. Society and government in Britain decided the country could do better and invested heavily in sports, from grassroots clubs up to high performance athletes. This year, the British team took home 27 gold medals. We could do the same, not by investing on the same scale as Britain but by investing in communities, sport and recreation at a level that is appropriate to our needs. Surely we could have been more ambitious in this area and, in doing so, inspire a generation into leading physically active, healthier lives that would have had a positive impact on future health demand. Again, that was not the choice the Government made.
The Irish aid budget has not been increased. The Taoiseach will recall the discussions we had in the previous Government when, even in bad times when we were under considerable pressure to cannibalise our support for overseas aid, we managed to say "no". Deputy Sean Sherlock, who is seated beside me, was the Minister of State with responsibility for overseas development aid at the time. The country was in dire trouble but we decided we would not solve our problems on the backs of the world's poorest. The overall increase in overseas development aid will be approximately €10 million in 2016, which means expenditure on overseas aid will decline to 0.3% of gross national income. In other words, rather than making progress, we will slip further away from the target we declared to great fanfare at the United Nations when he committed to increasing overseas development aid to 0.7% of gross national income.