Category: Archive

Bush slashes IFI funding

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Last year, the president’s budget accorded only $8 million for the IFI, but Congress rejected that figure and boosted the U.S. contribution back to its current level of $18 million.
This year’s funding level of $8.5 million in the Bush budget did not take many by surprise on Capitol Hill.
“It’s hard to justify spending money on economic development when Ireland has a better economy than we have,” one senior congressional staff member working on the funding issue said.
Undoubtedly, congressional members will put forth their own proposals as the budget winds its way through the various committees.
Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern, who is visiting the U.S. this week, said he was confident the funding for the IFI would be restored.
“The Americans have always been strong supporters,” the minister said when asked about the funding by reporters after his meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
He promised to raise the issue with Bush’s special envoy to the peace process, Ambassador Mitchell Reiss, and members of Congress when in Washington later this week.
“Circumstances have changed,” the minister conceded reflecting on the Celtic Tiger’s continued economic buoyancy.
But his message to the Bush administration and congressional members seeking to axe the U.S. contribution to the fund was to pause and remember that the effort to develop peaceful and reconciled relations in Northern Ireland remain paramount.
“I would like to think, given the situation we have in Ireland, that we don’t have the ultimate goal of the peace process, and the International Fund is needed more than ever, particularly in to get parties like the DUP and the community they represent involved,” Ahern said.

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