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Pro choice protesters in Ireland rally following the death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012 Photo by: Google Images

Irish government accused of funding abortion groups in Ethiopia as debate on Irish law continues

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Pro choice protesters in Ireland rally following the death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012 Photo by: Google Images

Irish government aid to Ethiopia has been used in part to support agencies which fund abortion, it has emerged.

According to the Irish Independent millions of euros of Irish taxpayers' money has been used to support agencies via the Government's overseas development agency.

Reached for comment, Irish Aid reportedly said: 'We don't provide any funding to those whose focus is to provide abortion services as this would be against government policy.'

However between 2005 and 2012 Irish Aid gave over $11 million to two of Ethiopia's biggest abortion providers, the Independent claimed.

The Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia (FGAE) reportedly received $3.5 million from Irish Aid between 2008 and 2012, and lists the provision of 'safe abortion services' as one of its 'major focus areas.'

The agency, which provided 50,000 abortions in 2011, received some 10 per cent of its 'unrestricted funding' from Irish Aid in 2011.

Meanwhile DKT Ethiopia, the biggest supplier of medical abortion kits to the Ethiopian government, received $7.6 million (almost 10 per cent of its total donor support) from Irish Aid in the period 2005 to 2012.

The agency DKT said that Irish Aid introduced a condition that Irish funding should not be used for procuring abortion products in 'early 2010.' However, Irish Aid gave DKT Ethiopia some $6.3 million in the period 2005 to 2009.

In 2011, the Irish Embassy in Addis Ababa reportedly sought confirmation that Irish Aid funds would not be used for 'abortion-related activities.' FGAE said: 'We confirmed same in writing to the embassy before year 2012.'

But in its 2012 report FGAE states that, 'Resources from FGAE's donors are used in a similar way and it is therefore difficult, and somewhat artificial, to isolate the individual impact of one of the donors.'

In fact the report said that core funders such as Irish Aid were 'making a significant direct impact on sexual health service provision particularly in the areas of access to safe abortion.'

Micheal Martin was Irish Foreign Affairs Minister from 2008 to 2011, when much of the Irish Aid funding was paid to the Ethiopian abortion providers. Martin's conservative Fianna Fail party reaffirmed its 'pro-life' position at its 2013 Annual Convention.

From 2004 to 2011, the Minister of State with responsibility for overseas aid was variously held by Fianna Fail deputies Conor Lenihan, Michael Kitt and Peter Power.

Labour's Eamon Gilmore became Foreign Affairs Minister in March 2011, after which time funding for the Ethiopian Non Governmental Organizatios was reduced, before being shelved at the end of 2012.

Meanwhile, thousands of anti-abortion campaigners took to the streets of Dublin over the weekend urging the Irish government to scrap its plans for new abortion laws.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny reportedly dismissed calls by the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin to give Irish ministers a free vote on the legislation, organizers said well over 40,000 people attended the vigil in the city center.

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