Irish Govt Advocates Fight for Hunger

Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen and Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin will visit the UN on Thursday, September 26 to launch the Irish government's Hunger Task Force Report, a two year in the making independent report that outlines specific ways in which Ireland can help to reduce levels of hunger worldwide.

Cowen and Martin will be joined at the launch by UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon, along with other prominent members of the Hunger Task Force, including Irish aid agency Trocaire's director Justin Kilcullen, U2 front man and political activist Bono and Jeffrey Sachs, the Columbia University economist and author of the book "The End of Poverty."

On Monday, the Irish Minister for State and Overseas Development Peter Power spoke at the UN General Assembly, where he reiterated the government's commitment to the international fight against hunger.

On Tuesday Power visited the Irish Hunger Memorial Garden in lower Manhattan at the request of radio host Adrian Flannelly, a symbolic gesture to underline the depth of the government's continuing commitment to the report.

The Hunger Task Force was originally set up in 2006 by then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to report on the particular contribution that Ireland can make to the international fight against hunger.

In 2000 the Millennium Development Goals - a set of eight goals designed to reduce worldwide poverty by 2015 - was adopted by the UN and ratified by all member governments including Ireland, whereby each member state committed to aid and debt relief to achieve goals.

In his speech at the UN General Assembly on Monday Power said, "For Ireland the development challenge in Africa is of the utmost importance - more than 85 percent of our bilateral assistance is targeted at the continent. We are hopeful that this week's events will help to re-energise the global commitment to achieving the MDG's in Africa."

Despite the public commitments made by heads of government however, the 2008 mid-term review will show that while a couple of the goals on health and education appear to be on track, most of them will not be achieved because not enough money is being spent on them by each member government.

The second scheduled Irish government event on Thursday will be a brief review of the achievement or otherwise of the Millennium Development Goals where all governments will be asked to recommit to them at this half-way point to 2015.

On Thursday afternoon Martin will attend an Enterprise Ireland lunch to promote greater economic ties between the U.S. and Ireland. Later that afternoon he will meet with representatives of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR).

On Friday evening he will host an Irish community reception at Ireland House, with 200 Irish community representatives expected to attend.

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