Get involved: age no object!

04 September 2013
Our attention was recently drawn to an interesting interview with Joe Costello TD, or, to give him his full title, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with responsibility for Trade and Development. The minister and Ireland’s charitable sector can, of course, be expected to meet and greet each other from time to time. In fact readers of our Facebook feed on Monday 2 September will be aware that he presided at the recent launch of a report from PMCA Economic Consulting, an Irish-owned economic consultancy practice, commissioned by Comhlámh. The report supported the charitable sector’s view that overseas volunteering benefits the Irish economy and people as well as poor communities overseas. Volunteering is always a popular topic in development discussions - and the minister may have helped to give it even more publicity with his lively interview comments. Speaking to online magazine he suggested that the “main thrust” of the government’s new overseas volunteering policy will involve the 30,000 or so people who have retired recently through redundancy schemes in the public sector. His point was that many of these former public sector employees have something tangible to offer, given their skills and experience in numerous diverse national and regional posts. To that end, the Department of Foreign Affairs is to launch a new civilian volunteer corps, which will encourage recently retired public servants to travel and work in countries that are in desperate need of international aid. We hope to report on this and other opportunities as soon as we hear of further developments. In the meantime, if anyone thinks it might be too late in life to get involved, may we point them towards former Harambee volunteer and FOL Board of Directors member John Spillane? John is going to be climbing the 1038 metre high Carrantouhill on the 14th of September - as part of his 75th birthday celebrations! Please, if you can, do donate to his efforts (it’s in aid of FOL) online at or send donations to the FOL office in Midleton. You could even take part. It may not be quite what the minister was thinking of but it’s certainly a good example to set for anyone who thinks that volunteering is just for the young.