Eamon Delaney: Questions about our foreign aid won't disappear
IRELAND'S overseas aid budget: is it too high and is it really going to the right places? It is the debate which will not go away, and which is growing in volume in so many different areas, especially now that our public have suffered another budget of taxes and cuts at home.
Last month we had the news that Ireland had frozen its direct aid programme to Uganda on foot of corruption allegations. The corruption, involving millions of euro, went right to the office of the Ugandan prime minister, and, in fairness, an irate Department of Foreign Affairs immediately suspended its remaining €16m in annual funds pending serious review.
However, the same department now admits that its own terms of scrutiny were amiss and will have to be improved. This will be disappointing to those who worry about the hundreds of millions of Irish money which flows into African development every year but will not come as news to those of us who have heard persistent rumours of misadministration, waste and actual corruption in our aid programmes. Indeed, only this month, a senior EU official told the European Parliament that there were serious concerns about the tracking of EU aid to Africa, with almost €1.6bn insufficiently accounted for. Much of Irish Aid goes into EU programmes.