Humanitarian Aid Hub at Shannon Airport on the agenda at Foreign Affairs & Trade Committee Meeting – BREEN

April 24th, 2012 - Pat Breen

On Wednesday last, 18th April 2012, the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs & Trade met to discuss the White Paper on Irish Aid and it was first attendance at the Committee by the Minister of State with special responsibility for Trade & Development Joe Costello T.D. since his appointment as Minister of State at the end of last year.

“Our Joint Committee identified the review of the White Paper on Irish Aid as a key priority in our work programme for 2012. Since our establishment last June, we have examined Ireland’s development policy in a number of ways. That has included formal hearings in regard to Vote 29 on international cooperation and a broad policy discussion with the Minister of State’s predecessor, Deputy Jan O’Sullivan. Our Committee has had meetings with the office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, and Commissioner Georgieva as well as hearings on specific issues including the food crisis in the Horn of Africa and the development of challenges in Haiti”,

“During our discussions on Irish Aid and as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs & Trade Committee, I have raised the potential for development of a humanitarian hub at Shannon Airport on a number of occasions including previously with EU Commissioner Georgieva. The Programme for Government sets out the Government’s desire to position Shannon as an International hub for the storage and distribution of emergency humanitarian supplies. The Government is in the process of carrying out an independent feasibility study to assess the potential for Shannon to develop this hub role within the existing global humanitarian network, as well as the level of demand from various national and international humanitarian actors.”

“The Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Joe Costello is very supportive of this project and during our Meeting last week, Minister Costello said that he was particularly interested in the potential use of Shannon by EU actors, given that the Lisbon Treaty introduces a specific legal basis for EU humanitarian aid for the first time. He also said that he would be looking at the business case for taking this initiative forward.”

“I am delighted to work with Minister Costello on this important initiative and as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs & Trade Committee; I assured him of my support and that of our Committee Members for this project.”