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Irish Aid Expert Advisory Group

The Irish Aid Expert Advisory Group provides independent advice on the aid programme to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development. The group is currently chaired by former politician Nora Owen.

About the IAEAG

The Irish Aid Expert Advisory Group was established in 2011 to offer ‘independent advice to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of State for Overseas Development on the aid programme.’

The Group consists of a Chairperson, five Ordinary Members and one senior official from the Department of Finance serving in an ex officio capacity.

The Members and the Chairperson are appointed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and have a broad knowledge of the development and international affairs agendas.

Appointments are made for a period of three years with the possibility of this term being extended up to a maximum of a total of five years. 

What it does

The Group provides advice to the Ministers on the overall orientation and strategic direction of the aid programme. 

It may also analyse, review, report and make recommendations on specific, discrete areas of the aid programme at the request of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade or the Minister of State for Trade and Development. Work carried out by the Group is submitted directly to the Ministers.

IAEAG in action: Review of the White Paper on Irish Aid

In 2011-2012, the Government undertook a review of the White Paper on Irish Aid. The IAEAG played an important independent oversight role during the Review, ensuring that the Review process was as transparent, participatory and effective as possible.

Arising from issues raised during the consultations for the White Paper Review, the Advisory Group decided to undertake an analysis of the linkages, complementarities and coherence across Ireland’s development cooperation, economic and political objectives in Africa. In particular, the Advisory Group sought to examine the relationship between the advancement of inclusive economic growth, trade promotion and support for the Irish private sector with the Government’s priorities in poverty reduction, fighting corruption and the protection of human rights.   

Overall, the Expert Advisory Group found that Ireland’s development cooperation programme was evolving and responding to the significant economic changes underway in different African countries and that Ireland was moving towards more rounded partnerships of mutual interest in a manner that is both coherent with and complementary to the aims of the aid programme and Ireland’s commitment to untied aid. The Expert Advisory Group made a number of recommendations to Government on improving the linkages, complementarities and coherence between Ireland’s development cooperation, economic and political objectives in Africa. The Government Response is annexed to the report. 

Current Members


Nora Owen is the Expert Advisory Group Chairperson. Nora Owen was former Minister of Justice, Chair of the Joint Committee on Co-operation with Developing Countries, and Vice-Chair of the Joint Foreign Affairs Committee. She has extensive experience in facilitating parliamentary training and election monitoring in Africa, Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

Ordinary Members:

  • Dr Naomi Ngwira was appointed to Deputy Governor of the Malawi Reserve Bank in May 2012. President of the Economics Association of Malawi, Ms Ngwira was formerly Director of the Debt and Aid Division in the Ministry of Finance.
  • Professor Tom Lodge is Director of the MA in Peace and Development Studies and Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Limerick. 
  • Professor Patrick Fitzpatrick is the Director of the Centre for Global Development, and Head of the College of Science, Engineering and Food Science at University College Cork.
  • Professor Jane Harrigan is Professor of Economics and Head of Department, at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
  • Ronan Murphy is the former Director General of Irish Aid and, in 2011, was appointed Chief Operating Officer at the Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice.

Ex-officio member

Donal McNally is a retired former Second Secretary General at the Department of Finance.