This article questions the shift towards the global in discourses of development education in Ireland. Drawing on analysis of policy and research on discourses of development education with facilitators in Ireland, it shows that this shift is neither complete nor necessarily critical. Side by side with talk of the global are discussions of 'development issues' and 'promoting development', with the global often constructed in terms of the Global South and local-global relations assumed to mean North–South. The article examines some dynamics around shifting discourses and argues that the shift to the global does not necessarily signal a more critical development education. As such, it calls for critical analysis beyond changed language used in development education to explore the assumptions that underpin it and its implications for criticality.