Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello TD reiterated Ireland’s commitment to strengthening relations with Sierra Leone following the decision to open an Irish embassy in Freetown and the nomination of an Irish Ambassador.
Speaking during at an event at Wynn’s Hotel in Dublin to mark Sierra Leone’s Independence, organised by the Sierra Leone – Ireland partnership group (SLIP), Minister Costello said:
“Irish Aid has been actively engaged with Sierra Leone since the country emerged from a period of brutal conflict between 1991 and 2002. We have worked closely with the Sierra Leonean authorities and communities to improve health, tackle hunger and malnutrition and improve women’s rights since 2005. We take a leading role on nutrition and since 2009 have provided over €11 million to help ensure that women and children get the nutrition they need to survive and to thrive.
“Sierra Leone is still recovering from conflict and remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Consolidating the peace in the country has long been a priority of the Sierra Leone administration and it is one which has Ireland’s strong support.
“Ireland is committed to staying the course with countries emerging from conflict and instability and to supporting their transition to peace. Following the announcement last year that Ireland would be upgrading our presence in Freetown to a full embassy, I am very happy that the Government has this week nominated Sinéad Walsh as the first Ambassador of Ireland to Sierra Leone.
“These developments indicate in very concrete terms Ireland’s intention to continue to deepen our engagement in Sierra Leone.”
9 May 2014
Notes to Editor:
· Irish Aid is the Government of Ireland’s programme of assistance to developing countries. It is a division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
· Ireland has had a Representative Office in Freetown since February 2005, covering both Sierra Leone and Liberia.
· Ireland is one of only four EU donors resident in Sierra Leone, along with the UK, Germany and the European Commission.
· Funding support has focused primarily on health, in particular maternal and child health, food security, nutrition, gender and governance initiatives.
· Sierra Leone is still among the poorest countries in the world, ranked 177 of 187 countries on the 2012 United Nations Human Development Index (HDI).
· Maternal and under-five child mortality rates are among the highest in the world.
· The 2013 United Nations Gender Inequality Index ranked Sierra Leone the tenth worst country in the world for gender equality (139 out of 148 - criteria include reproductive health, empowerment and labour market participation).