Irish Minister of Defence Willie O’Dea, who has featured on my blog before, has recently been asked why the Irish army did not provide assistance during the floods in Ireland & if they would assist with releief efforts in Haiti. Both times he answered that they would have to be asked first.
So I did just that, I asked him. More specifically I asked him via email on January 17th if he could assist with transport to get a team of volunteer telecoms engineers to Haiti. It took him 5 working days to reply. And his reply can be described in 4 words: “go ask someone else”. Below is the verbatim contents of the reply I received. Make up your own mind.Dear Mr. Bopp Thank you for your e-mail and for your kind offer of assistance following the enormous tragedy in Haiti. The offers of assistance from the public have indeed been exceptional and indeed heartening, once more showing the generosity of people in this country. The Irish Government response to the humanitarian crisis in Haiti is being led by the Development Cooperation Division (Irish Aid) of the Department of Foreign Affairs. I have been in touch with that Department in relation to your e-mail. One of the lessons of the international community’s response to the 2004 Tsunami was that the mass deployment of volunteers and delivery of relief items, while well-intentioned, can often hamper relief efforts. In light of these lessons, the Government is of the view that all assistance should be provided in response to the real needs of the affected population in-country. Aid should also be provided in a structured and coordinated manner, and through providers on the ground who have the capacity and know-how to receive and distribute aid appropriately. As you may be aware, Irish Aid is a donor organisation which is not directly operational in emergencies, but which provides its funding and material assistance through established and trusted UN, Red Cross and NGO partners. According to Irish Aid, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is leading the response in the area of Emergency Telecommunications. The WFP’s emergency platform website is a good source of information and may be of assistance to you: http://ictemergency.wfp.org/home in your planning. The strong recommendation is that, in the first instance, you make contact with the WFP’s Emergency Logistics personnel in order to ascertain from them if the expertise and product you offer will be required in the immediate emergency response, or indeed later in the recovery phase. If so, they may be able to advise how best you should channel your assistance. Contact details are on the website link herewith: http://ictemergency.wfp.org/14;jsessionid=E05F9426294AC82BD48496D7D2452A68 I would also refer you to the How You Can Help website (www.howyoucanhelp.ie), which has been developed by our NGO partners to provide guidance to the general public on the best ways they can assist in times of overseas emergency. In addition, the following is a list of Irish Aid’s NGO partners who are operational in Haiti, together with contact details. It is possible that one of those will wish to engage with you and your colleagues. Concern: www.concern.net firstname.lastname@example.org 01 475 4162 CBM Ireland: www.cbm.ie email@example.com 047 71820 Oxfam Ireland: www.oxfamireland.org firstname.lastname@example.org 01 672 7662 Trocaire: www.trocaire.org email@example.com 01 629 3333 Christian Aid Ireland: www.christian-aid.ie firstname.lastname@example.org 01 611 0801 Irish Red Cross: www.redcross.ie email@example.com 01 676 5135 Plan Ireland: www.plan.ie firstname.lastname@example.org 01 6599 601 World Vision Ireland: www.worldvision.ie email@example.com 01 498 0800 GOAL: www.goal.ie firstname.lastname@example.org 01 280 9779 Habitat for Humanity Ireland: www.habitatireland.ie/ email@example.com 01 629 9611 MSF Ireland: www.msf.ie firstname.lastname@example.org 01 660 3337 Tearfund Ireland: www.tearfund.ie email@example.com 01 497 5285″. Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact me and for your kind offer of assistance. Yours sincerely, __________________ WILLIE O’DEA T.D. MINISTER FOR DEFENCE