Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 June 2018:
Ireland has and continues to play a crucial role in supporting Sierra Leone’s economic and social development efforts, since the end of a brutal ten-year civil war, which took the lives of over one hundred thousand people.
With a new elected government at State House in Freetown, led by president Julius Maada Bio, international development partners are looking to see which direction the Bio government is heading.
President Bio’s SLPP was elected less than three months ago with a mandate to deliver its proposed New Direction Agenda, and yesterday, Tuesday 26 June 2018, the Irish Africa Director of Development – Fionnuala Gilsenan, paid a courtesy call on president Julius Maada Bio at State House for talks on how best to help the government achieve its development goals.
Gilsenan said it was a good time to visit Sierra Leone, now that the new government is settling down, adding that her visit was to help strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries.
The Irish envoy also stated that her government was examining priority programmes of the New Direction to see where they could help.
“Ireland and Sierra Leone have always had good bilateral ties. My visit here is to help strengthen those ties between the two countries. Our government will look into the priority programmes of your new administration to see areas of possible assistance,” she assured.
President Bio expressed appreciation to the government and people of Ireland for their support to Sierra Leone over the years.
He said that Ireland has been supportive of the people of Sierra Leone, adding that among other things his administration would prioritise education on the government’s agenda.
“As a new government, we are ready to welcome everyone who wants to help in actualising our policies. I have promised to provide free education to the people of Sierra Leone because I think it will provide the bedrock for development.
In September this year, we will start delivering the free education programme because we want to help the less privileged in society to become useful citizens,” Bio said.
It is estimated that president Bio will need at least $200 million of international funding support to help pay for his free education programme for the next five years.