Sunday, March 07, 2010

 

Starting Our Report on Overseas Aid

I launched our online survey into Overseas Aid at the beginning of the week. The survey is part of a study my office is undertaking this year into the Irish Overseas Aid programme.

The study will be looking at the Irish Aid program and the work will involve desk-research, consultation with relevant bodies, case studies and gathering of opinion and views about the aid programme itself.

The research for the report is now underway, and I am being assisted in the work by my intern, Sam. During the course of the study we will be carrying out reviews of what other countries are doing. We will be speaking to people within the industry (including non-governmental organisations such as Trocaire, Bothar, Concern etc.). We will also be talking to representatives of groups and countries that have received aid, including ambassadors and representatives of local groups. The analysis will focus on our nine priority countries, although we will also include some other case studies, including one from Bolivia and one from Niger.

Part of the study will also examine Irish attitudes to aid. The survey asks a range of questions to members of the public on their perceptions of the Irish aid programme.
The survey is quite short and takes only two or three minutes to complete. It can be found here.

To avoid any bias of self-selection we will also be carrying out face-to-face interviews on the street as well as telephone calls to random people. The idea in any of these surveys to get as wide s a cross-section of opinions as possible. That way the results are reflective of society as a whole, and not of any one particular group within society.

Also, we will be carrying out a separate survey of politicians. A survey form will be send to all County and City councillors in the country seeking their views on the aid programme.

There’s quite a lot of work involved in a study such as this and we reckon it will be another six months or so before we complete the survey. Our aim is to get the report finished and released before the end of this year.

On Tuesday I attended a Careers Advice night in Greenhills School in Drogheda. The event was arranged for all schools across the Drogheda area, so it catered not just for Louth students, but Meath students also. I was talking from some students from Mornington and also from just outside Slane.

The event was well attended and I managed to have a chat not just with the students, but with a few of the teachers as well. My former Physics teacher, Joe Sweeney, was there and I had a quick word with him. He looks like he hasn’t aged a day in the last 25 years!

The students were very interested in how one becomes a Senator. The most common question was “What qualification do you need”. Of course, when they heard the answer (“None”) their eyes lit up and they got very interested. I explained to them the process of having to get elected, and that if you don’t do your job well then you lose it. I also advised them to get some qualifications first, so they would have something to fall back on if politics didn’t work out.

Cllr Sirena Campbell was also in attendance. I hadn’t seen her since the election count last June. It was nice to catch up with her. She seems to be settling in at this stage.

The latest Oireachtas video was launched this week, featuring yours truly. You can see it here.

Smartasses can stand down – I’ve already heard the jibes – YES, that is me running, it’s not a double, and NO, I am not being pursued by some out-of-shot disaffected branch member.

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