Fianna Fail senator Brian O Domhnaill will tell the Seanad next week that Ireland can no longer afford its foreign aid budget and that the programme should be suspended for three years until the country is back on its feet.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, he slammed the situation where "vulnerable people are freezing to death in doorways'' while the country is borrowing hundreds of millions of euro to pay for the ninth highest foreign aid programme in the world. The senator said the overseas aid budget should be cut by 75 per cent, with the saved money being used to reverse the cuts in respite care, home help, child benefit and the extra PRSI.
The proposal is likely to horrify the upper echelons of a Fianna Fail party that is deeply committed to foreign aid. But Mr O Domhnaill said "the scenario where the Irish aid budget continues to remain close to Celtic Tiger levels'' is not sustainable.
The Senator criticized the fact that Ireland ''is borrowing at punitive interest rates to send money off as development aid''. He said Ireland "sent a staggering €639m overseas this year, with a further €623m due next year, all of which is being borrowed, which means Irish taxpayers have to pay the interest as well as the principle''.
He said over 80 per cent of this money "will go to Africa where widespread corruption and waste has been a major blight" on aid programmes.
He said Ireland's 0.53 per cent of GDP aid allocation put it among the top nine donors in the world in per capita terms. The US is 19th placed. He stressed that this was not emergency aid but ongoing development assistance.