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CONDOM CLASH OVER STATE AIDS CASH
Irish Times 13/07/2005

By Olivia Kelly

Taxpayer's money should not be used to fund overseas HIV/ Aids programmes, which do not advocate the use of condoms, Senator David Norris has said.

Mr. Norris was speaking at an Oireachtas Foreign Affairs committee yesterday, which met delegates from the Catholic overseas mission body, the Irish Missionary Resource Service (MRS). It was "wrong and immoral" he said for Irish taxpayer's money to be used in projects combating HIV/Aids that did not give people the "full facts" on the prevention of the disease, including the role of condoms.

It was "highly appropriate and very efficient" for the Government to direct overseas aid through religious missions because they provided a very good return for the money invested, Mr Norris said. However he said it was essential that separation of State and Church beliefs was observed when public money was being used.

"Funding has to be specifically directed to education, health and rural development programmes. It cannot be seen to be promoting evangelism." The IMRS is seeking an increase in Government funding for 85 overseas missionary organisations.

The body is currently allocated 12 million of the Government's 545 million annual overseas aid budget and is seeking an increase to 20 million by 2008.