IrishAid's new public relations headache

    Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore with Minister of State for Trade and Development Joe Costello. Photo by: The Irish Labour Party / CC BY-ND

    IrishAid has weathered some tough storms lately - but a newspaper investigation into the agency’s spending now threatens to further weaken public support.

    After obtaining government documents under the Freedom of Information Act, the Sunday Independent suggests in its Jan. 27 edition that the Irish aid program “squandered” part of its €623 million budget by spending it on items such as:

    • €517.15 on a new “swimming pool pump” for the ambassador’s residence in Uganda.

    • €610 on “team fun games for two days” at Hope Extreme Ventures in Mohale, Lesotho.

    • €614 on “drivers’ uniforms” including suits, shirt and shoes in Malawi.

    • €792 for “supply and delivery of cutlery.”

    • €898 on a “teambuilding event” at the five-star Sheraton Hotel in Kampala, Uganda.

    • €944.85 on a 16GB iPhone5 in Uganda.

    • €1,312 on a new flag pole in Uganda.

    • €1,143 on staff uniforms in Zambia.

    • €1,347 on a dishwasher for the head of mission’s residence in Zambia.

    • €1,382 on framing “14 photos” in Mukawa for “NP launch” in Zambia.

    • €1,813.83 on New Zealand wine “for office purposes” in Vietnam.

    • €2,850 in May 2012 and €1,365 the following August on chauffeur costs in Vietnam.

    • €3,786 on “fence-painting with two coats” in Lesotho.

    • €5,860 on “Fagor kitchen appliances” for the “residence” in Vietnam.

    • €5,471.98 on “replacement of metal railings” in Zambia.

    • €25,235 on a “witness protection project” run by Uganda’s ministry of justice.

    • €57,241 on 400 mountain bikes for the Ugandan police.

    • €89,374 on Young Scientist & Technology exhibition in Tanzania.

    Devex has not seen the documents cited by the Sunday Independent and thus will reserve judgment. Clear is, though, that after a hiring freeze that exacerbated oversight challenges, and after the misappropriation of funds in Uganda that have since been repaid, the Irish aid program will have to deal with another public relations headache.

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    • Rolf Rosenkranz

      Rolf Rosenkranz oversees a talented team of in-house journalists, correspondents and guest contributors located around the globe. Since joining Devex in early 2008, Rolf has been instrumental in growing its fledgling news operation into the leading online source for global development news and analysis. Previously, Rolf was managing editor at Inside Health Policy, a subscription-based news service in Washington. He has reported from Africa for the Johannesburg-based Star and its publisher, Independent News & Media, as well as the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, a German daily.

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