Crosscare Migrant Project welcomes the launch of Ireland’s new Diaspora Strategy 2020-2025. Having engaged with the public consultation process with a written submission and attending the consultation event in Dublin in 2019, the Diaspora Strategy has been much anticipated and it does not disappoint with a compelling array of renewed and new commitments to the Irish diaspora.
The renewed focus on the diaspora by the government, the commitment to a diaspora ministerial position, and the new five-year Diaspora Strategy indicate the wide recognition of the importance of the diaspora, with respect particularly to the global pandemic that has been challenging all travel, immigration security and welfare needs for people globally. There has been a revived sense of Irish community and ‘Ní neart go cur le chéile’ in a world of decaying interdependence. The explicit support for welfare organisations in the Diaspora Strategy to “strengthen their resilience and build their sustainability as they face the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic”, and the commitment to “support measures and organisations that protect the dignity and wellbeing of Irish emigrants” are important key objectives.
Crosscare Migrant Project maintains a strong lobbying record in encouraging policy development and implementation on the removal of barriers to Irish emigrants returning to Ireland, on the provision of information for Irish emigrants, and on the promotion of shared knowledge and collaboration of Irish welfare organisations abroad. The Diaspora Strategy responds to this work in the commitments outlined under ‘Returning to Ireland’ to:
- Monitor barriers to return and adopt measures to remove them where possible
- Negotiate reciprocal agreements with countries that are home to significant Irish diaspora communities, such as double taxation and social security agreements
- Improve the provision of information on returning to Ireland and provide information for Irish citizens living overseas, including disseminating information on skills needs
A commitment to “Working with organisations that provide vital assistance to Irish citizens in distress abroad, in line with Ireland’s consular strategy” will further strengthen the streamlining approach to supporting emigrants abroad and in engaging vital support organisations. Crosscare Migrant Project continues to work closely with Consular Services and welfare organisations to promote a streamlined approach of engagement across stakeholders and in supporting individuals in distress.
There is also a distinct acknowledgement of the diversity within the diaspora and a focus on celebrating the Irish Traveller Community, people of mixed heritage, the LGBT community and non-Irish family members of the diaspora. Our work has continued to promote inclusivity and representation in our research, policy, networking and frontline service work.
Important too, is the focus on expanding Ireland’s digital outreach to connect with such groups and “previously unengaged members of the diaspora”. Key to this, as also included in our submission, is updating the online diaspora directory and to raise its visibility as a communications resource for Irish community groups.
These commitments will be implemented by the Emigrant Support Programme, with funding streams for Irish organisations abroad. Crosscare Migrant Project also welcomes the commitments advocated for in our submission to the allocation of resources for, among others; Multiannual funding; Joint applications from organisations, including projects with an allisland approach; Streamlined application and reporting procedures; Strengthening governance among groups, and; sharing of best practice.
Through our Irish Abroad Networking work, we look forward to expanding and developing the established connections, engagement, collaborative initiatives and mutual support for Irish emigrant support organisations and groups abroad. Implementation of the Diaspora Strategy is also reinforced by the continuation of the sitting of the Interdepartmental Committee on the Irish Abroad, and we look forward to working with the Committee, the Minister for the Diaspora, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on achieving the successful implementation of the Diaspora Strategy and strengthening ties with the diaspora.
Read the new Diaspora Strategy here.