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'Frontline' wrong to set needy here against world's poorest

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Monday's 'Frontline' debate on Ireland's aid 'was
rejected by a majority of its audience'

Monday's 'Frontline' debate on Ireland's aid 'was rejected by a majority of its audience'

Monday's 'Frontline' debate on Ireland's aid 'was rejected by a majority of its audience'

AS THE TDs and senators of the Irish Section of the Association Of European Parliamentarians With Africa, we are concerned by the impression created by RTE's ‘Frontline’ television programme on Monday, May 30.

To have set up a choice between the needs of some of Ireland's most vulnerable children and those of the poorest people in the world was wrong. It was also clearly rejected by a majority of the programme's audience.

As an all-party group containing many first-time TDs, we are working on international efforts to ensure greater aid effectiveness and development effectiveness. We are also fully mindful of the Irish electorate's demand for political reform. Although the external reviews of Ireland's aid programme have been good, we will continue to monitor Ireland's aid programme using the full powers of the parliamentary committee system, and all other methods internationally. However, knee-jerk reactions to cut overseas aid and discredit its effectiveness will not solve our economic crisis. Ireland's aid budget represents just over half of one percentage point of GNI and, as has been pointed out, it has been cut more than any other sector.

As a generation, one of our greatest challenges is to find where, if it is necessary, the best balance of cuts in expenditure and increases in revenue can be most fairly sourced. As public representatives, and as citizens, we must have as much reasoned and informed debate on all of these options as possible. Setting the poorest and the most vulnerable against each other, as on last Monday's ‘Frontline’, is unfair and unnecessary.

PAT BREEN TD TOMMY BROUGHAN TD ERIC BYRNE TD CIARA CONWAY TD JOE COSTELLO TD BARRY COWEN TD