Colm Regan Criticises Irish Radio Debate on Issues Surrounding Aid
Regan felt that the debate avoided important ethical issues and was narrowly technical, as many debates around aid tend to be. He added that debate around this issue is much needed but that it shouldn’t be focused on poverty, but rather on wealth and “how it is generated, distributed and protected, usually at the cost of the poor”:
Mention ‘Africa’, the ‘Developing World’ or ‘Poverty’ and sure enough, it’s yet another debate on ‘aid’, whether it has ‘worked’, ‘failed’, ‘created dependency’ etc. and whether it addresses ‘overpopulation’, ‘corruption’ and ‘our’ current financial crisis. And, so it was on RTE radio on Tuesday August 21st when Myles Dungan hosted Derek Fee (former EU Ambassador to Zambia) and Ronan Murphy (former Director General of Irish Aid) both of whom have recently written books on the subject**.
What is so often hugely frustrating about these debates are the context and the terms of reference through which they are focused – the debate remains narrowly technical, avoids most of the ethical and moral or political dimensions and their implications. The RTE debate proved to be so; it lacked the passion and anger one might expect when addressing one of the world’s most important challenges – the persistence of human poverty and all its consequences; how we are implicated and the duties associated with this reality.