Seanad debates

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Review of White Paper on Irish Aid: Statements, Questions and Answers


3:00 pm

Photo of Jim WalshJim Walsh (Fianna Fail)

I welcome the Minister of State and, as other speakers have said, there is no-one more appropriate to hold his portfolio.

I want to raise a number of issues about conditionality as has been mentioned by a number of Senators. I am a little concerned about some of the comments made by the Minister of State and presentations received at committee level. I am concerned that if people are losing their lives due to hunger then we, the EU and the United States, in particular, are in some way inclined to transpose some of our "values" onto them. Can the Minister of State tell me what human rights issues are we raising? Do we oppose some countries because they are trying to impose abortion on some African countries under the guise of population control and as part of their aid provision? We should not do that. We should be hostile to and oppose such a measure.

What trade measures are we taking? There have been significant growth rates in many of the African countries but, as Senator Higgins has said, that is coming from a very low base. What are we doing to achieve sustainable levels, particularly our embassies and Enterprise Ireland? Has Enterprise Ireland a section that promotes trade with Africa? What are we doing to assist countries to export goods?

My final point is about HIV. It is a huge problem in Africa but the number of HIV sufferers in Uganda seems to have been reversed. Last night I spoke to a Christian Brother at a film and he said that AIDS and HIV is a major problem even among the professional classes in Africa. What are we doing to assist those countries to tackle and overcome the problem?


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