SINN FÉIN SPOKESPSERSON on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Diaspora, Seán Crowe TD, today met top Irish Aid officials to discuss the misappropriation of €4 million of its aid money in Uganda.
Deputy Crowe met the officials when they came to give evidence before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and that the meeting was “very useful and informative”.
“The misappropriation of Irish Aid money sent to Uganda is a very serious issue and it was important that the officials publicly articulate the financial and audit systems that they have put in place, which will ensure that such misappropriations will not happen again,” he said.
“To maintain its current support Irish Aid must continue to work towards being one of the most accountable and transparent government aid programmes in the world.
Crow said the recent revelation that €4 million of Irish Aid’s money to the Ugandan Government was diverted into unauthorised accounts, was a worrying and negative news story for the Irish Aid programme – and that the assurance that the funds will be fully returned to the Irish Government is to be welcomed.
He said there were ‘positives’ to be taken from the controversy, including the fact that the misappropriation was noticed by Uganda’s own Auditor General, whose office is supported and up-skilled by Irish Aid, and which in turns shows that Irish Aid’s anti-corruption policies in its partner countries are effective.
The controversy also renewed focus on the programme and make it clear that Irish Aid, along with other donors, has helped to significantly reduce poverty in Uganda since it became a partner country of Irish Aid in 1994, he said. “In fact poverty has halved in the country over the last two decades, there are now 5.8 million more students in primary school since 1997, and the HIV prevalence rate has been reduce from 18 per cent in the 1990s to 6 per cent today.”