Cookies on the DFA website

We use cookies to give the best experience on our site while also complying with Data Protection requirements. Continue without changing your settings, and you'll receive cookies, or change your cookie settings at any time.

Overview of the Emigrant Support Programme

Applicants for funding from the 2017 Emigrant Support Programme are requested to read the following before completing and submitting an application form


The Irish Government Emigrant Support Programme (ESP) is a tangible expression of the Government’s support, commitment to, and interest in, Global Irish communities, as outlined in The Global Irish: Ireland's Diaspora Policy. Strengthening connections with Irish Communities abroad and promoting links with Irish people and people of Irish ancestry worldwide is a key objective of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. These communities are made up of Irish emigrants, their descendants, those living abroad who share and celebrate an Irish heritage identity, as well as those working for the betterment of Ireland and her position in the world.

Central to achieving this objective is the Emigrant Support Programme (ESP), which is administered by the Irish Abroad Unit of the Department in Dublin, in partnership with our Embassies and Consulates abroad.

The ESP provides financial support to organisations engaged in the delivery of front line advisory services and community care to Irish emigrants, particularly to the more vulnerable and marginalised members of our community abroad, including the elderly.

Since its inception in 2004, the Emigrant Support Programme has assisted over 400 organisations in 33 countries with grants totaling over €143 million. Grants ranged from small amounts for grass-roots groups, to major allocations awarded to voluntary and community organisations operating on a large scale.

While the support of frontline welfare services continues to be the priority of the ESP, the expansion of the programme has enabled the Government to invest in a range of cultural, community and heritage projects, which foster a vibrant sense of Irish community and identity, as well as strategic capital projects.

The key objectives of the programme are to:

  • Celebrate, maintain and strengthen the links between Ireland and the Global Irish;
  • Address the diverse and evolving needs of Irish emigrants, especially the elderly, disadvantaged and vulnerable;
  • Facilitate access to statutory and voluntary services in their country of residence for Irish emigrants;
  • Foster a more vibrant sense of community and of Irish identity;
  • Further the outcomes of the Global Irish Economic Forum;
  • Support business networks to connect Irish people to each other at home and abroad;
  • Research and define the emerging needs of Irish communities abroad;
  • Support development of new ways to communicate and connect with the increasingly diverse global Irish, including non-traditional diasporas;
  • Improve awareness and understanding of the emigrant and diaspora experience.

The Government is particularly interested in supporting projects in the following areas:

  • front-line advice and support services;
  • elderly Irish emigrants;
  • homeless Irish emigrants;
  • Irish people affected by physical or mental illness, or with substance misuse problems;
  • the Irish Traveller community;
  • access to training, employment or housing for Irish emigrants;
  • projects which focus on support for new emigrants.
  • heritage and community activities that promote Ireland’s identity and maintain vibrant Irish communities abroad;
  • research projects that add to the existing knowledge about Irish emigrant communities. Academic institutions considering submitting an application for such a project should contact the Irish Abroad Unit, before beginning the application process;
  • fostering greater links and strategic cooperation between Ireland and the global Irish.

Criteria for grant aid:

Applicant organizations should be established as registered charities, charitable bodies or voluntary/not for profit organizations and will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • the need for the project
  • beneficiaries in the Irish community (including second and later generations), including their needs and vulnerabilities
  • the expected outputs of the project
  • the expected outcomes of the project
  • how the outcomes will contribute to the achievement of ESP’s objectives
  • the capacity of the organisation to deliver the project
  • the total project cost and value for money offered
  • what funding has been secured from other sources for the project
  • the monitoring and evaluation systems in place to measure the outcomes for target beneficiaries
  • commitment to good governance and best practice throughout the organisation (including e.g. financial management, fundraising strategy, inclusion policies and staff training and development)
  • partnerships with other statutory, voluntary and ESP-funded organisations to maximize service delivery to vulnerable Irish people

Other points to note:

All funding decisions are based on the information submitted in the official application form, which must be submitted online. No hard copy application forms will be accepted.

Categories of Funding:

The categories under which ESP can be applied for is as follows;

  • Capital - Projects involving the construction, refurbishment or purchase of capital assets. This includes projects related to website development/software acquisition.
  • Heritage - Project involving the promotion and maintenance of Irish heritage and identity overseas.
  • Welfare (Elderly) - Projects that are specifically targeted at the older members of the community.
  • Welfare (Other) - Projects involving the provision of front-line welfare services including advisory, counselling, information and outreach services.
  • Business Networks - Projects to support Irish business networks overseas.

Organisations are permitted to make applications in more than one category. It should be noted that organisations making applications for Global Irish Economic Forum/Global Irish Network related projects should submit their applications under the Business Network category.

Principles governing recipients of Irish Government funding:

In line with regulations governing the receipt of grants from the Irish Government, all grantees must:


Understand the purpose and conditions of the funding and the outputs required

Apply funding only for the business purposes for which they were provided

Seek clarification from the grantor where necessary – on use of funds, governance and accountability arrangements


Ensure appropriate governance arrangements are in place for:

  • oversight and administration of funding
  • control and safeguarding of funds from misuse, misappropriation and fraud
  • accounting records which can provide, at any time, reliable financial information on the purpose, application and balance remaining of the public funding

Accounting for the amount and source of the funding, its application and outputs/outcomes

Value for money
Be in a position to provide evidence on:

  • effective use of funds
  • value achieved in the application of funds
  • avoidance of waste and extravagance

Manage public funds with the highest degree of honesty and integrity
Act in a manner which complies with relevant laws and obligations (e.g. tax, minimum wages)
Procure goods and services in a fair and transparent manner
Act fairly, responsibly and openly in dealings with the Grantor

Financial Reporting:

The standard terms and conditions which apply to all grant recipients are incorporated into the online grant application process. Additional conditions may be attached to a grant to a particular organisation and these will be detailed in the Letter of Offer to a successful applicant.

A condition of funding requires a grantee to report any funding received in their financial statements as follows:

  1. show the Emigrant Support Programme grant as a separate entry, under the heading “Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Emigrant Support Programme”
  2. show the amount (as per your Letter of Offer) and term (period) of the total grant (i.e. 1 July 2017 – 30 June 2018)
  3. show the amount of the Emigrant Support Programme grant accounted for in the current financial statements, if that amount is less than the entire amount of the ESP grant
  4. indicate whether and how the use of the grant is restricted (i.e. is it for a particular project, or for the delivery of a particular service).

In addition, in accordance with the principles outlined in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s Circular 13/2014, organisations are required to provide details of the number of employees whose total employee benefits (excluding employer pension costs) fall within each band of €10,000 from €60,000 upwards and an overall figure for total employer pension contributions. This requirement applies even if salaries are not being funded under the Emigrant Support Programme.

Additional Points to Note:

It is recognised that it may not be possible to immediately begin a project which has been approved for funding. However, it is expected that the project will have commenced within six months of receipt of the grant. Irish Government accounting practices require the money to be used for the approved purpose within the same funding year.

The Funding year runs from 1st July 2017 until the 30th June 2018

In relation to welfare, while grant aid may primarily be given to Irish community welfare agencies providing front line advice services, some support may also be given to non-Irish welfare agencies providing a valuable service to significant numbers of Irish clients and to second-line support services. Irish Government funding is intended to facilitate access to mainstream funding, rather than be the sole source of funding.

Grant aid not used in accordance with the terms and conditions specified by the Irish Government must be repaid in full.