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I agree with the main point in Gordon Cunningham’s letter (Nov 8) that Ireland should not be donating large amounts of money to countries that are misusing this money.
This applies particularly to Uganda where €4m of Irish aid was stolen by Ugandan officials. However, Irish aid to Uganda has significantly reduced in the meantime, and more recently Irish Aid decided to cease funding to Iran’s anti-drug programme because of Iran’s policy of executing those convicted of drug trafficking, and such decisions are very welcome.
Ethiopia is the third largest recipient of Irish aid and receives over €25m annually. Yet, Ethiopia is one of the least democratic countries in receipt of Irish aid. In the 2010 elections about 97% of the candidates elected to the parliament were government-aligned candidates. Ethiopia spends an undue proportion of its resources on its security forces that have been involved in human rights abuses within Ethiopia, and Ethiopian troops have intervened several times within Somalia in the past decade.
The principle of Irish aid to poorer countries is a well justified one. Total Irish bilateral aid in 2012 was just under €439m. This is a small amount compared to the billions of euro of taxpayers’ money the Irish Government has unjustifiably paid out to bailout bankrupted banks, builders and developers.
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