A Message from Minister Cannon – April 2019
News08 April 2019
I am always impressed, and often moved, by the deep sense of connection with Ireland felt by so many people of Irish descent around the world. The size and vitality of Ireland’s diaspora reflects the resilience of our people through generations. You can see this whether you are in Newfoundland, Talamh an Éisc, Ireland’s oldest diaspora community, or watching the hundreds of players at the annual Asian Gaelic Games, the newest members of our global community.
The Government remains committed to maintaining our connections with the global Irish. At the heart of our approach is the Emigrant Support Programme. Since 2004, the Department of Foreign Affairs has spent more than €170 million to support the activities of almost six hundred Irish organisations overseas.
We also propose to extend voting rights in Presidential elections to Irish citizens worldwide. In a referendum in October we will ask our people at home to give that privilege to the 3.6 million Irish citizens living outside the state.
Last year, we published “Global Ireland”, the most ambitious programme since the foundation of the state for developing Ireland’s international presence and global influence. This sets out a commitment to prepare a new Diaspora Policy to be published early next year.
To inform this policy, I am announcing a series of consultations, both at home and abroad. Our network of embassies and consulates will also facilitate consultations around the world. In Ireland, the Tánaiste and I will be hosting town hall meetings in Galway, Cork, Mayo and Donegal beginning this month. It is only by drawing upon the immense experience of those involved than we can develop a diaspora policy that is fit for our people.
We will acknowledge that the profile of our diaspora is changing. In a changing world, how do we continue to connect with people who feel a connection to Ireland? How are Irish communities changing? How will they want to connect with us? Who are the people that we want to connect with and how do we maintain our relevance to them?
New Irish communities are emerging in locations such as the Middle East and in Asia. People that have studied or worked in Ireland for a time represent a new type of return diaspora. Increasingly, more distant descendants of emigrant families are seeking to reconnect with their Irish heritage. When added to the revolutionary changes brought by social media to the way in which the Global Irish relate to Ireland and to each other, these developments represent both a challenge and an exciting opportunity for our country. Our new policy must evolve and respond to this tremendous energy and dynamism for the benefit of all Irish, at home and abroad.
Ciarán Cannon T.D., Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development
If you wish to take part in the consultation or to attend one of the town hall meetings in Ireland, please visit www.dfa.ie/global-irish for details and to register.