Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Diaspora, Seán Crowe TD, has stressed that all aid given through the Irish Aid programme must be accountable and transparent.
Deputy Crowe was speaking after the revelation that €4 million of the annual bilateral aid given to Uganda, through the Irish Aid programme, has gone missing due to suspected fraud.
Deputy Crowe said:
“I was very concerned to hear that €4 million of the Irish Aid programme had been lost due to suspected fraud in Uganda. The Irish Aid programme is the Irish Government’s overseas development programme and is funded by taxpayers. It is completely unacceptable that taxpayer’s money would be lost to possible corruption in this way.
“Irish Aid is one of the leading Government aid programmes in the world and has been lauded by development organisations all over the world for the fantastic work that it does assisting developing countries and poverty stricken people around the world.
“It shows the fantastic generosity that Irish people have towards some of the poorest people in the world. Even though Ireland is going through one of the worst economic recessions in living memory and people are being brutally squeezed by austerity, they still have an enormous commitment to supporting those less well off, and this trait is unparalleled around the world.
“All aid given bilaterally, multilaterally and to NGOs must be accountable and transparent. I commend Irish Aid for making this case public. In these tough times it is important that every government department can account for every euro they spend, and inform the public of any monies that have been diverted away from their legitimate goal.
“Irish Aid officials have acted quickly and have suspended all bilateral aid to Uganda pending an investigation. I am happy to see that it was Uganda’s own auditor general who noticed the missing funds and alerted Irish Aid officials. This shows that Irish Aid’s work in assisting government officials abroad in reducing corruption is working.
“I sympathise with the ordinary Ugandan people, some who are living in the most appalling conditions due to acute poverty. This money was earmarked for improving the education and health care in the poorest regions of Uganda.
“I hope all the money is recovered and can be used to improve the lives of Ugandans who are in dire need of assistance and support. I call on the Government to ensure that this case is fully investigated and I want Irish taxpayers to know that I will follow the case closely and ensure that all of Irish Aid’s financial assistance is spent accountably and transparently.”