Book Chapter Details
Mandatory Fields
Kevin O'Sullivan
2013 December
Saints and sinners: official development aid and its dynamics in a historical and comparative perspective
EC membership, development aid and Irish foreign policy
Oslo University Press
In Press
Optional Fields
Foreign aid Development assistance Ireland European Community European Union International Relations
When Ireland joined the European Community in 1973 it had little or no development aid programme to speak of. By the late 1990s it had become one of the largest per capita donors of official development assistance in the world. The EC played a significant role in this transformation. This chapter explores the relationship between Community membership, foreign aid, and Irish state identity. It begins by exploring the immediate impact of EC membership on Irish attitudes to aid, portraying the Community as an important catalyst for Ireland’s first official aid programme, but argues that it was equally significant that external pressures were matched by a strong domestic pro-aid constituency. The second section continues in that vein, analysing the Community’s influence on the structures of the Irish aid programme. It concludes that the EC’s impact was mixed: bilateral aid retained a particularly Irish flavour, augmented by ideas and practices borrowed from the Community, but obligatory contributions to the Community budget made the EC’s influence openly discernible in the field of multilateral aid and were often detrimental to the overall balance of Irish ODA. The third part of the chapter focuses on Ireland’s contributions to EC aid policy and discussions on global economic reform. It views the Irish approach as part of an effort to position the state among the more progressive members of the Community – in line with its self-described role as a ‘bridge’ between the West and the developing world – but contends that Irish resistance to reform in areas such as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) also strongly underlined its European credentials. The final section takes this analysis a step further, examining the role of aid in the foreign policy of small states. It outlines aid’s ‘enabling’ effect, including its role in constructing Irish identity among its peer group of states, and concludes that aid gave the Irish government a voice on development issues that would have been unthinkable outside the Community.
Grant Details
Completed while undertaking an IRCHSS postdoctoral fellowship at UCD/University of Birmingham (2009-12)
Publication Themes