By Mark Davis
Anti-poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof recently joined the College Historical Society to contribute to their first debate of the month on African Aid.
Debating on the motion “That this house believes that development aid has done more harm than good,” guest speakers in opposition Sir Bob Geldof and Justin Kilcullen of Trocaire joined Professor Yash Tandon, Ugandan activist and policymaker, arguing for the proposition.
The knighted former rocker Sir Bob stole the show. Bringing the debate down from intellectual theorising he reminded the audience that human life was at stake in this arena; individual, vital life was the commodity that was being coldly balanced in such a cost benefit analysis of development aid.
Portraying development aid as a way of voicing support for those bowed beneath the yoke of economic deprivation, Sir Bob delivered his challenge: “I don’t care who they are, but if they are made mute by poverty you will hear my voice on their behalf. Whose voice will be raised with mine?” His bold appeal had the desired effect as the congregation rose and lending loud voice to Sir Bob’s tune, the verdict deafeningly passed.
“Poverty is soluble,” Sir Bob said giving his final word. “Africa since 2000 has 2 per cent growth per annum, poverty reduction is down 1% ongoing … the logic of it works”.
He also addressed the Irish economic situation criticising the culture where banks became “casinos”, although he would not be pressed to comment on whether the time has come for a change in Government.