Trócaire Blog


February 26, 2015

UK Aid Match funding in action

This Lent, the UK government will match, pound for pound, all public donations to the campaign in Northern Ireland, up to a maximum of £5 million. 
This will support programmes in Ethiopia for the next three years and help improve the lives of tens of thousands of people.
Last year, thanks to the amazing generosity of our supporters in Northern Ireland, particularly through parishes and schools, more than £2 million donated during the Lenten campaign 2014 was matched, pound for pound, by the UK government through the ‘UK Aid Match’ scheme. 
That extra money has been put to work in Zimbabwe and Malawi to help support wide-reaching programmes there. 
A great example of the difference that can be made is in the village of Mbuso, Zimbabwe, where a Trócaire-supported irrigation scheme has enabled people to produce their first crop of sugar beans. The scheme is very simple – a solar-powered pump has been buried in a dry riverbed and pumps water from deep underground to a large storage tank. The water is then fed down plastic piping to irrigate the vegetable gardens.  
Not only do farmers avoid the high cost of electricity, they are also setting a precedent for using renewable and clean sources of energy for low cost food production. 
“Even in the middle of winter there is no shortage of sunshine here so the pump will always have power,” says Najabulo Maphosa (30), one of the farmers benefitting from the project. “We are no longer dependent on the weather like before”.
It’s a perfect example of how Trócaire is helping people become self-reliant both now and for generations to come. 
Njabulo Maphosa with the solar panels
Njabulo Maphosa with the solar panels that power the water pump for the village irrigation system. Photo: Margaret Masanga
In Maphisa village, Thandiwe Ncube (53) remembers a time when she dug for water on the sandy riverbed near her home.  Sometimes she dug for hours for the single bucket of water her family needed to survive each day. 
“The nearest borehole is 3 or 4 kilometres away,” explains Thandiwe. “We had either to walk up and down in the scorching sun or cut the time short by digging for water here on the riverbed.” 
Trócaire responded to the problems faced by the village by implementing a project to help trap rainwater in a reservoir. Thandiwe, who is a widow with four children, joined other members of the community to make the reservoir a reality. 
Now when it rains, instead of the water draining away it can be trapped and used by the whole community. The availability of this water has revived the area. The villagers are able to irrigate their crops and access drinking water close to their homes.
“Now I can spend more time farming and growing vegetables which I can sell to buy books for my grandchildren. I am inspired,” Thandiwe says.
Thandiwe has also become involved in other ways of making money to support her family. In the bushes surrounding the reservoir, she and other women use mud and water to mould bricks which are sold locally.
For Thandiwe, water is important to everything she does even in the most basic way. “Look at me, I am clean. Our clothes used to be dirty all the time. Now I wash them often, whenever I want.”
uk aid match logo
February 20, 2015

Honduras: Update on the Lent 2011 community

Four years ago at Lent, Trócaire highlighted the difficulties faced by the small farming community of La Confianza in the Bajo Aguan Valley, Honduras.
You may remember Digna, the face of the Lent 2011 campaign. 
Digna and her family faced violent threats and intimidation by army-backed corporate landlords keen to remove them from their farmland. In Honduras, many such families are defenceless against powerful landowners as well as complex and corrupt political and judicial systems. 
digna honduras lent 2011
Digna in 2011 and 2014 by her flower garden. Left image: Jeannie O'Brien; Right image: Aisling Walsh / Trócaire
But with the generous support of the Irish public, Trócaire worked with the community to secure ownership of their land so they could build proper homes and move out of their make-shift plastic tents. We also supported them to get agricultural training to help them grow more and better crops.
In 2011, 227 families of La Confianza secured the purchase of 4000 hectares of land from the government that they are now managing collectively. They cleared the land to grow staple crops and have an income-generating community palm oil cooperative.
Digna is now 10 years old and in fourth class. She says she still remembers the time when she was five and the army entered her community shooting in the air and threatening to kill them. Things are much calmer these days, she attends the newly-opened school, which was built by the community itself, and otherwise she helps her mother with the household chores and looks after her own garden, especially her flowers.
digna and her family honduras 2014
Digna with her family in September 2014. Photo: Aisling Walsh / Trócaire
Digna’s mother is a volunteer health promoter in the community, helping out with health education, malaria prevention programmes and providing medical attention at the local health centre.
Challenges still lie ahead for the community of La Confianza, security continues to be a major concern and they have a significant loan to repay for the purchase of their land. 
But their future is a lot more hopeful than it was thanks to the generosity and solidarity of Trócaire supporters.
February 16, 2015

Irish Climate Bill: You asked, they listened!

Climate Change Bill Lobby Event Buswells Hotel

Caption: clockwise from top left Paul Connaughton, Galway East TD, Fine Gael; Eoghan Murphy, Dublin South East TD,  Fine Gael; Mick Wallace, Wexford TD, Independent; and Mary Lou McDonald, Dublin Central TD, Sinn Fein, were among the many TDs who attended the Climate Bill lobbying session in Buswell's Hotel, Dublin on Tuesday 10 February. Photos: Alan Whelan/Trócaire.

On Tuesday 10th February, Trócaire, together with Stop Climate Chaos organised a hugely successful mass lobby event on Ireland's Climate Bill. This event was organised to pressure our politicians to pass a much stronger bill than currently exists.
Thanks to people from all over the country who contacted their politicians, over 90 TDs attended the event throughout the day, which was an amazing turnout. TDs from both the Government and opposition came thanks to the numerous emails, tweets and phone calls they received from constituents like you!
The debate in the Dail last week showed a cross-party awareness of the need to strengthen the bill;  TDs have voiced their concerns about  its weakness in its current form, repeating the need for emission targets, a fully independent advisory council, the need to define what 'low carbon' means and a stronger commitment to climate justice for developing countries.

What TDs have been saying about the Climate Bill

'I hope the Minister will approach the legislation in the proper spirit as we approach Committee Stage because if we look back to the report of the Oireachtas committee we see that most of what it recommended was not reflected in the legislation. One does not have to agree with everything a Committee says, but if one does not listen to it, that begs the question of why we have such committees and why they do the work they do. It is important as we amend the Bill on Committee Stage that we try to find a better balance between what the Oireachtas Committee recommended and what the Government wants, because that is the whole purpose of the system we have... 
There is no definition of low carbon in the Bill, which is incredible when one thinks about it. We have a definition of low carbon and the Bill is about low carbon so the Bill should contain a definition...
There is also no concept of climate justice in the Bill, which is remarkable, as one cannot talk about the subject without talking about climate justice. It is an important concept but it is a difficult thing to achieve. However, we will not get anywhere near achieving it if we are not even talking about it in primary legislation such as this.'
- Eoghan Murphy, Dublin South East TD, Fine Gael
'In the programme there was a commitment to "publish a Climate Change Bill which will provide certainty surrounding government policy and provide a clear pathway for emissions reductions", yet this Bill does not provide any certainty to me or to the people I met who visited this House to give an excellent briefing. They were from the 28 organisations that combined to form Stop Climate Chaos and were in Buswells Hotel last Tuesday. The Bill does not answer our concerns and it does not provide a clear pathway to the sectors that need to start making changes to how they plan and operate.'
- Tommy Broughan, Dublin North East TD, Independent
'Climate change is a serious threat to this island nation across a broad remit of areas from agriculture to infrastructure, including the threat of massive coastal erosion. The Bill does not confront the scale of that threat. The input from the exhaustive hearings of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Community and Local Government and its subsequent consensus recommendations have effectively been ignored by the Government, contrary to what the Minister has said.
...the failure to include specific 2050 targets will give rise to sectoral interests potentially hijacking the process and depriving the Bill of its long-term impact in shaping policy formation. In other words, as a result, the Bill is effectively toothless.'
- Barry Cowen, Laois-Offaly TD, Fianna Fail
'With the timelines as set out currently we will get a plan but it will be too long in the making. Another issue we must address is the view that this country is so small that it does not really matter what we do in the wider world. The United States of America and China make deals with each other and the belief is that if they are doing something then it will solve matters for the rest of us.
That is hardly a positive way to view this problem. We have to do our bit. I agree with the need for climate justice. As a developed country we must do more for those countries in much more dire situations.'
- Paul Connaughton, Galway East TD, Fine Gael
'...the UK, Scotland, France, Denmark, Sweden and Finland have one thing in common. They have adopted legislation which is much stronger than that with which we are presented. They also have targets set in domestic law. Unfortunately and critically, this legislation does not contain these targets. For legislation which has the support of politicians across the spectrum, it is amazing that narrow sectoral concerns seem to have had more impact in the framing of this legislation. I hope this can be changed on Committee Stage. It is an indictment of Parliament that, over the past ten years, we have failed to respond to one of the biggest challenges of our times.'
- Catherine Murphy, Kildare North TD, Independent
'The Bill is not adequate in terms of following on from the action plan on climate change which ended in 2012. It had specific targets based on the Kyoto Protocol. There is no excuse, particularly in light of the fact that the Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht, with which I and other Members are involved, had all-party support when setting out its proposals in a report in 2013.
The committee report refers to the concept of climate justice. We must recognise that there is not a level playing field. Trócaire and others have stressed the inequalities that exist on a global scale and the fact that people in developing countries suffer greatly from the impact of dramatic climate change. A women from the Philippines was here yesterday. It is a country made up of islands and we have seen television images of what those people have suffered as a result of climate change. One could not be left unmoved by what is happening to people in the Pacific Ocean, particularly those who live on small islands. We have an obligation to those people, as we are producing far more greenhouse gases per head of population than they are. Over recent decades we have seen the consequences of drought and disaster caused by extreme events in the Philippines and other countries. The impact of such events is greatly exacerbated by the fact that these underdeveloped countries do not have the infrastructure to cope with such disasters. Poorer-quality housing and physical infrastructure means that the consequences of hurricanes and typhoons, for example, are far greater than they are in developed countries. The emergency and relief services are not as well able to cope with those consequences and the impact on local people.
What we have been presented with instead is an expanded heads of a Bill which puts everything on the very long finger and commits this State to do little. There will possibly be penguins washed up in Dollymount before we have this process completed.'
- Brian Stanley, Laois-Offaly TD, Sinn Fein
'Our carbon reduction targets should be explicitly stated in time stages to enable us and the world to calculate whether we are moving in the right direction. Sometimes we can get legislation wrong, but the consequences in those cases are not too severe or they can be undone. However, if we get this wrong - the legislation or the enforcement - there will be no second chance.'
- Michael Colreavy, Sligo North TD, Sinn Fein
'I attended a briefing that was held by Stop Climate Chaos yesterday. I suggest the Minister would have attended it last year before he was put in the position he is in now, or even before he was elected. The organisers of the briefing, who have been very involved in some of the most serious examination of climate change for the future, are saying clearly that this Bill is very disappointing. A fourth class group of ten year olds from Griffeen Valley Educate Together national school who attended yesterday's event asked why no targets have been set in this legislation. They could not understand why no targets have been set. When people of that age are asking such questions, it shows they have significant concerns about their future. The Minister has an obligation to provide a specific reason. I do not think the explanation he provided in his introductory remarks was good enough. We should set targets for our greenhouse emissions.'
- Joan Collins, Dublin South Central TD, United Left
'Here we are discussing a Climate Bill that does not promise any plan until 2017 and no progress report until 2023, fails to set an emission reduction target for 2050, does not commit to a definition of "low-carbon economy", refuses to make the expert advisory council fully independent and fails to recognise the importance of the principle of climate justice.
In Ireland, we emit more greenhouse gases than the poorest 400 million people living on the planet put together. As noted by Stop Climate Chaos, Ireland is emitting 17 tonnes of greenhouse gases per person per year. This makes us the second worst polluter in the EU, where the average is 11 tonnes. We need to recognise that we are not innocent, that we have benefited at the expense of others and that it is time to do our part to redress the balance.'
- Mick Wallace, Wexford TD, Independent
'...the question must be asked as to why no explicit mitigation targets are contained in the Bill. The Department's position appears to be that setting targets within the Bill could at some stage interfere with the legally binding targets set by EU legislation. Perhaps the Minister will indicate why he believes this to be the case.
Given that this is the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill, I am obliged to ask whether it would not be reasonable to include a definition within its provisions of what constitutes "low carbon"? The inclusion of such a definition could provide extra clarity and contextualisation to the provisions and aims of this legislation. A further concern, which has just been outlined by the previous speaker and which has been brought to my attention on numerous occasions, relates to why the Bill does not explicitly state that the expert advisory council will be fully independent.
A national and transition mitigation plan is required to be developed by the Minister "no later than 24 months after the passing of this Act". In light of the importance of taking action to tackle climate change, should the development of this plan not take place in a more appropriate timeframe? I raise this issue because there are EU targets which we are obliged to meet by 2020 but under this provision, the national mitigation plan may not actually be in place until 2017. I do not believe this provides the State with sufficient time in which to take action.'
- Alan Farrell, Dublin North TD, Fine Gael
'This Bill is really quite pathetically weak in dealing with the most serious of crises, the climate crisis, and all the dangers it poses nationally and globally.
As has been stated, Ireland has one of the highest per capita emissions rates in Europe. It is ranked fourth highest. The potential cost to Ireland of runaway climate change is more severe than for most countries in Europe. The Joint Research Centre's recent report on climate impacts in Europe details the enormous costs already incurred in Ireland owing to events such as flooding. Some €750 million has been paid out by insurers since 2000. This indicates, based on the current trajectory, that the costs, which are really quite astronomical right across Europe, are set to increase massively. The cost of addressing sea flooding in Britain and Ireland is predicted to increase from €996 million to €3 billion over the next few years. Already, the direct economic cost of the damage from flooding across Europe is €5 billion. It is expected to be €11 billion in future years. The report states Ireland and Britain will be the worst affected, obviously because they are islands on the west of Europe and have particular climatic conditions.'
- Richard Boyd Barrett,  Dun Laoghaire TD, People Before Profit Alliance


'I wish to be positively encouraging in bringing this Bill forward. I also wish to make it more robust. It is a little limp at present due to the lack of definitions, targets and in respect of climate justice. It ought to be strengthened and made more robust in those three areas. We should not be afraid. Otherwise, the Minister is introducing a limp Bill that does nothing.'

- Peter Matthews, Dublin South TD, Independent

February 03, 2015

Feeling the Heat: Poetry competition 2015 launch

by Trish Groves, Campaigns Officer
Trócaire and Poetry Ireland are proud to launch our fourth joint poetry competition. This year’s theme is ‘Feeling the Heat’.
Extreme weather events are having a devastating effect on people in the developing world: destroying families, homes and livelihoods. The people who contribute least to climate change are those most ‘feeling the heat’ from its effects. 
Trócaire’s Climate Justice campaign seeks to address this inequality and support those who are experiencing the effects of climate change now. 
Entries are invited from both published and emerging poets, in English and Irish, with special categories for younger entrants and a Spoken Word category for performance poetry. Poets can submit up to THREE poems each, and entry is free.
Curtear fáilte roimh iontrálacha le haghaidh an tríú comórtas bliantúil filíochta Trócaire Éigse Éireann ar an téama 'Feeling The Heat'.
trocaire poetry ireland competition winner 2014
2014's competition winners at the awards ceremony in the National Library of Ireland
Download an application form, or enter the competition directly on Poetry Ireland’s website.
The closing date is Friday 13 March, and winners will be notified by Friday 7 May 2015. Entries will be judged by poets Mary Shine ThompsonTheo Dorgan, and Trish Groves from Trócaire.
Prizes for adults include choices such as a stay at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, a year's subscription to Poetry Ireland Review, or professional feedback on your poetry through Poetry Ireland's Critical Assessment Service. Younger entrants can win a Kindle or book tokens, and a visit to your school by a writer.
The winning poems are also published in booklet form, and distributed to arts festivals and community events, and through schools and poetry readings. Winners and runners up are invited to read at our lunchtime awards ceremony at the National Library of Ireland in Dublin, and many past winners have gone on to read at events around Ireland, including Culture Night, All Ireland Poetry Day and the Mountains to Sea Book Festival in Dun Laoghaire. 
Read the winning entries from 2013 and 2014:
This competition is a genuine opportunity for new and emerging poets to boost their profile and reach new audiences, while helping to raise awareness about climate justice.
Visit Trócaire’s Climate Justice web page for lots of practical suggestions and inspiration for your poetry competition entry.
Want to know more about the research behind the theme of ‘Feeling the Heat’? Read our report Feeling the Heat: How climate change is driving extreme weather in the developing world
For updates about the competition, please visit the Trócaire Facebook page or Poetry Ireland's Facebook page or follow us on Twitter @trocaire and @PoetryIreland.
January 29, 2015

Make our weak Climate Bill stronger!

Trócaire has welcomed the publication of the long-awaited Climate Action Bill.
Unfortunately this Bill, as it currently stands, does little to address Ireland’s responsibilities towards lowering our carbon emissions and working towards climate justice.
Time is limited!  We only have a few short weeks before this Bill, named the ‘Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill’ becomes law which is why we need your urgent help.  We cannot let Ireland continue to shirk its responsibilities around climate change.  
We need you to tweet and meet your local TD.  They are the people who are ultimately responsible for strengthening this Bill.  
The next few weeks are critical to getting this Bill strengthened.  Watch our video to find out how you can help…


Meet your TD in Dublin on 10th February

Meet your TD at the Stop Climate Chaos lobby event in Buswells Hotel, Dublin 2, on 10th February 2015.  
Find out how to invite your TD to the event in Buswells Hotel by emailing or phoning Trócaire Campaign officer, Orla Quinn, at or 01 5053229.  Orla will provide all the necessary information you need in advance of the meeting. Orla and other Stop Climate Chaos members will be at the lobby event to help and support you on the day. 
You can use this sample letter to to write a letter or email your TD’s and invite them to the lobby event in Buswells hotel.
If you can’t join us on February 10th, you can still lobby your TD in your local constituency, by organising a meeting with with your TD to discuss the issues. Email or phone Trócaire Campaign officer, Orla Quinn, at or 01 5053229 for advice on organising and conducting this meeting.
You can also check out our Activist Toolkit for further guidance on lobbying your TD.

Tweet Minister Alan Kelly TD and your local TD

Another powerful way to influence Minister Alan Kelly and your local TD is through twitter. Find your local TD’s twitter handle at
Here are four suggested tweets you can copy and paste.  Remember to put your TD's twitter handle in where it reads <your local TD>.
@alankellylabour Please ensure #climatebill includes definition of low carbon, independence of advisors, and principle of #climate justice.
@alankellylabour Please ensure #climatebill includes the recommendation for quick adoption of the first National Mitigation Plan.  
@<your local TD> Your voice is needed to strengthen the #climatebill. Key recommendations here:
@<your local TD> Our #climatebill is too weak and needs these urgent amendments:  Will you act?

What’s wrong with the Climate Action Bill?

1. It fails to set a numeric target for emission reduction for the future. This is a fundamental flaw, as it means there is little concrete direction for the coming years.  In place of a numeric target, an alternative option is to define what is meant by low carbon, which would at least provide some clarity.  This definition is also missing!
2.  The body tasked with giving advice to the Government on climate change matters is not independent, despite the advice from the Environment Committee that all members should be independent of State or stakeholder interests. Instead the Bill provides for a body of no more than 9 members, 4 of whom represent state bodies.
3.  It does not provide for the inclusion of climate justice. The Climate Action Bill is about mapping out a strong and sustainable future for Ireland. It is also about ensuring that Ireland lives up to its global responsibilities. As a nation that has benefited from our own development to date, we need to do our fair share. The Tánaiste declared to the UN General Assembly in 2011 that "there is a compelling case for 'climate justice' – bringing developmental fairness to bear on the climate change agenda". Provision for the principle of climate justice provides the opportunity to realise this. 
4.  Most worryingly, the Government’s recent decision to extend the one year deadline to produce a national mitigation plan to two years gets them ‘off the hook’. The last national climate change strategy expired in 2012 and now we are told that we may have to wait until 2017 for its replacement and before the next Government start to take climate action.  This is not good enough!  Nor does it bode well for Ireland’s commitment to take the necessary steps at the vital UN Climate Change Conference in Paris later this year.  
This is a critical moment to put Ireland on the path to a sustainable future.   Many of us have been campaigning for this moment since 2008.  We can’t let it end in disappointment.  

For campaigners in Northern Ireland, we will be in contact in March detailing how we can together help push climate change further up the political agenda at Stormont.


Drop in the Ocean? Ireland and Climate Change Trailer

On February 23, we will be releasing our documentary 'Drop in the Ocean? Ireland and Climate Change.' We've interviewed some of Ireland’s leading environmental scientists, writers and activists and asked them where Ireland fits in the global climate change picture. How is  climate change affecting Ireland and what impacts will it have if carbon emissions remain unchecked? How do we contribute to it? And what role can Ireland play if we are to become part of the solution?


Read more: