For a country with as long a history of emigration as Ireland, the significance of having a Minister for the Diaspora cannot be overstated. It is an official acknowledgement that our diaspora is important and not forgotten, offering Ireland the opportunity to better connect with its emigrants. We thank Minister Deenihan and express our gratitude for his invaluable support during his time as Ireland’s first ever Minister of State for the Diaspora.
Noting the focus the ministry brought to Diaspora issues, Richard King, our Project Leader said ‘It has really helped us to promote the needs of the emigrants and returning emigrants we help, particularly those who are marginalised or have few supports at home or abroad. I’ve worked with emigrants for almost ten years, but the last year and a half has been by far the most eventful. It’s the first time I’ve felt that there has been a real national effort to connect with all parts of the Diaspora, and it’s helped us hugely to be more outspoken in support of those we work with.’
Echoing this our Irish Abroad Networking Officer, Sarah Owen, said ‘There is a sense amongst organisations working for the welfare of Irish emigrants that we must build on the positive developments since the review of Ireland’s engagement with its Diaspora. Events such as the Global Irish Civic Forum last year gave Irish groups from around the world the chance to become more interconnected and learn from one another. Continuing to establish these links will undoubtedly be of benefit to the Irish community abroad, and help to ensure that emigrant issues remain on the agenda here in Ireland.’