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Public Accounts Committee member wants probe into Irish overseas aid

Fine Gael TD Simon Harris has called for the powerful Dáil committee to investigate Irish overseas aid following the misappropriation of millions of euro sent to Uganda.

Simon Harris
Simon Harris
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

A MEMBER OF the Dáil’s powerful Public Accounts Committee wants it to investigate the spending of Irish overseas aid in the wake of the revelations that millions of euro sent to Uganda was misappropriated.

Fine Gael TD Simon Harris has written to the chair and clerk of the PAC requesting special hearings by the committee into the issue of how Irish overseas is being spent and what checks are in place to ensure it is being utilised appropriately.

It follows the suspension of Irish Aid money to Uganda last week after a report from the country’s Auditor General found that as much as €4 million in funding was misappropriated by the office of the African country’s prime minister.

Irish Aid officials are now investigating the matter with Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore announcing the suspension of aid and reportedly declaring that it will not be resumed until all the money is returned.

The Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi told RTÉ yesterday that he did not receive any of the misappropriated money and insisted some of the funds were used for their intended purpose.

Harris says that the public’s confidence in overseas aid projects has been shaken by the news in recent days and says that they now need “answers and assurances” about aid projects.

“Ireland and Irish taxpayers have continued to support overseas aid projects despite the economic difficulties in our own country,” he said in a statement issued this afternoon.

“It is absolutely essential that these funds are spent correctly, arrive in the destination they are intended to and that the State has the appropriate checks and balances in place to ensure that this happens.

The Wicklow TD went on to say: “We need the PAC to call before it all the appropriate officials as quickly as possible so we can get to the bottom of this and, in a public session, provide answers on this important matter.”

Read: Ugandan prime minister: ‘I didn’t receive misappropriated Irish money’

Poll: Should Ireland distribute foreign aid while it is in a bailout?

Read: Irish Aid: Tánaiste “absolutely disgusted” after alleged Uganda aid fraud

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Hugh O'Connell

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