Famine inspires fight against poverty, says Bono

Ireland's historic experience of famine has inspired the country to help tackle global poverty, U2 frontman Bono said today.

The rock legend is part of the Government's Hunger Task Force, which was set up last year and met for the second time this afternoon in University College Cork (UCC).

It was established to examine how Ireland can help combat world hunger, particularly in Africa.

The singer, who has become as famous for his aid work as his music, said Irish people around the world understood the need to eradicate hunger and poverty because of the country's famine experience.

"All the Irish around the world know and feel the poetry in this idea, with Irish history rhyming to eradicate hunger," he said.

"Ireland deserves real credit for setting course for 0.7 (of Gross National Product (GDP) for Overseas Development Aid), and can leverage this moral leadership to spearhead global efforts on areas of deep concern for us as a nation."

The Famine of the 1840s, or the Great Hunger as it was also known, was one of the worst human tragedies of the 19th Century and a major event in Irish history.

Not only did it cause the deaths of around a million people from disease and starvation, but also led to mass emigration, with a similar number fleeing the country in desperation.

The Task Force was launched by the Government in September 2006 and forms part of Ireland's efforts to achieve the first Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty and hunger by 2015.

The Task Force is made up of a number of national and international figures, including former Agriculture and Food Minister Joe Walsh, economist Jeffrey Sachs; Sheila Sisulu of the UN World Food Programme; Tom Arnold, CEO of Concern; Justin Kilcullen, director of Trócaire and Professor Denis Lucey of UCC.

The group is also due to travel to Malawi before compiling a report for the Government by next Summer.

Chairman Mr Walsh said: "We hope to produce a report that will not be afraid to challenge orthodoxies and to challenge not just ourselves but also our partners - both other development agencies and the developing countries themselves."

Today's Task Force discussions in Cork were the second set of talks held by the panel.

The first took place last September.

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