I strongly feel that snow is like the bus… the people who think it’s fantastic aren’t the ones who actually have to go out in it. So while I will grant that the heavy falls yesterday were really lovely, they paled in comparison to the drudgery of a three hour commute home.

The snow’s also evoking Dickensian memories of my eighties childhood…. added to the return of the incredibly overused ‘R’ word, I reckon it’s probably a matter of weeks before they begin rebroadcasting Glenroe because it’s suddenly relevant again.

On a more serious note this week saw a cut of €95 million from the Irish Aid budget. Of course all sectors of public expenditure are under fire, and it’s probably only fair that the aid budget should be reduced in proportion to everything else….

Unfortunately that isn’t the case. The cuts represent 11% of our state aid to the developing world, or added to the cuts over the summer, represent a total reduction of 17%. Compared to a 2% reduction in the rest of public expenditure it’s undeniable that our assistance to poor countries is taking a disproportionately large hit.

The Irish Aid programme has been remarkably successful in recent years, in no small part because of the strength of Irish NGOs. In Camara’s case the value for money we achieve speaks for itself. Last year Camara delivered 5,200 computers along with teacher training, educational software, and on-site maintenance. Put another way, to give a school twenty computers and to train the teachers to use them cost €1,520 of Irish Aid money.

The other aspect that people question surrounding overseas development aid is as to how relevant it is. Search the internet and you’ll find dozens of articles arguing for the uselessness of giving aid to Africa, generally relying heavily on the word ‘patronising’. One thing I’m finding more and more in contacting the schools we work with, and actually asking people, is that they completely disagree.