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Overseas Development Aid Oversight

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 20 February 2013

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Questions (31, 34, 60, 90)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

31. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will indicate the degree to which his Department continues to monitor aid intended for specific countries and-or projects to see if it reaches its destination unimpeded; the degree to which he continues to receive confirmation from the NGOs to this effect or otherwise; the most efficient method of dispensing aid whether by bilateral or multilateral methods; the means whereby the greatest level of accountability can be achieved with a view to making sure that best practice is observed at all times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8913/13]

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Niall Collins

Question:

34. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if there are proposals to introduce new monitoring processes in relation to expenditure on programmes funded under Irish Overseas Development Aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8927/13]

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Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

60. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to review Ireland's overseas aid programme in view of the recent news reports of Ireland's aid programme in Uganda; the measures that have been put in place to prevent a repeat of what happened in Uganda; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8734/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

90. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which overseas development aid donations continue to be monitored with a view to ensuring that criterion is strictly observed in terms of the intended donors obtaining maximum benefit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9279/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 31, 34, 60 and 90 together.

As Minister of State with responsibility for Ireland’s Official Development Assistance, I am very conscious of the need to have a high level of assurance that our development assistance is fully accountable and that it makes a real difference to the lives of the world’s poorest people.

To ensure that our assistance is targeted at those most in need and delivered in the most effective manner we work through a variety of delivery channels in partnership with national governments, local communities, NGOs, and key multilateral partners such as the United Nations. Each of these partners is fully accountable to my Department for any funds received. Programmes in receipt of Irish Aid funding are subject to regular internal and external monitoring to ensure that our support is reaching its intended beneficiaries and the planned objectives and goals of the Irish Aid programme are being achieved. These programmes are regularly monitored by internal auditors, by independent experts, and by the Evaluation and Audit Unit of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. These reports are reviewed by the independent Audit Committee of the Department.

In line with best practice and with recommendations from the OECD for improving the accountability of all development financing, Ireland strongly supports the strengthening of partner country delivery systems. We provide assistance to national Government oversight institutions, such as the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committees of national Parliaments, to ensure Governments are held to account for the effective expenditure of public funds, including overseas development assistance.

The recent case in Uganda, where there was evidence of the fraudulent use of Irish Aid funds, is a clear indication of the need for continuous vigilance in the oversight of any Irish Aid funds disbursed to our programme partners. The report into the events in Uganda, which is available on the Department’s website, contains a number of recommendations for improving the monitoring and oversight of Irish Aid spending. As Deputies will be aware, the misappropriated funds have now been returned.

Our management and oversight systems are continually under review to ensure that Irish development funding goes to those most in need, and that we meet the highest standards of accountability. I have accepted all of the recommendations of the Uganda report. Our oversight systems are also being reviewed in the light of the report and, where necessary, will be adapted if any deficiencies are indentified.

Question No. 32 answered with Question No. 14.
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