Emigrant Services Advisory Committee
The Emigrant Services Advisory Committee (ESAC), formerly known as the Díon Committee, was established in 1984 to advise the Irish Government on issues of concern to the Irish community in Britain. Apart from the Chairperson and Secretary, who are officers serving in the Embassy of Ireland in London, the Committee members serve in a voluntary capacity.
ESAC’s Terms of Reference, which were approved by the Oireachtas at the time it was established, are to:
- Advise and report on emigrant welfare services
- Make recommendations on the provision of financial assistance towards the employment of professional workers dealing with the welfare needs of Irish people in Britain, and
- Consider and make recommendations on specific questions at the request of the Minister for Foreign Affairs
The primary function of the ESAC is to make recommendations on applications from British-based organisations for funding from the Government’s Emigrant Support Programme. The Committee meets at least twice a year, or as required, to assess applications and provide funding recommendations, which are then considered by Irish Abroad Unit before submission to the Minister for consideration. A members’ register of interests is maintained.
The current serving ESAC members are:
Originally from Tipperary, Joe is a solicitor. Formerly the traveller’s project manager in Irish Chaplaincy, Joe serves as Treasurer of The Traveller Movement.
A law graduate from County Mayo, Caitriona has lived in London for over 25 years. She has worked for more than 15 years within the homeless sector brokering partnerships between local authorities, voluntary sector, and other statutory agencies to strengthen relationships and ensure a strategic approach to preventing and addressing homelessness. More recently, Caitriona was the Director of Community Services at the London Irish Centre, where she provided leadership on charity management, fundraising, finance, and information management. Caitriona is currently working as an inspector for the Care Quality Commission—the health and social care regulator in England. As an inspector, she is responsible for monitoring, inspecting, and regulating services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety as laid out in health and social care legislation.
Born in Leicester to parents from County Mayo, Tony grew up celebrating his Irish heritage through music, dance, Gaelic sports, and visits to Ireland. He is a professional youth and community development worker involved in community-based initiatives, and worked for the voluntary sector for 35 years with vulnerable young, elder, and disabled people. Tony joined The Emerald Centre 20 years ago when he played Gaelic football on the site where the Centre is now located.
Chief Executive of Listening Books, a national charity with 90,000 members, Bill is also a former trustee of the Irish in Britain. Bill previously served as the Independent Person to the Standards Committee, London Borough of Southwark, and a former member of the Independent Advisory Group to the City of London Police. Bill has served in a variety of other advisory and board roles across the public and third sectors, and was a Finalist at the Director of the Year Awards in 2013 (London and the South East) in the Public and Third Sector category. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2005 and is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.
Member of the Tyneside Irish Cultural Society, Liam was born in Bedfordshire to parents from Wexford and Meath. He has worked in the utilities and civil industry for over 30 years in Ireland, Australia, and Britain. Liam was instrumental in bringing natural gas to Northern Ireland. He is a keen follower of GAA sports.
Vincent was born in Birmingham in 1954. From an early age to the present day, he enjoyed traditional Irish music. His father was a fiddle player, having been taught by members of the Travelling community in his native County Mayo. Vincent served for over 30 years in the police service before becoming a music teacher at a local college having qualified via a Cert/Ed and the successful completion of the Teastas Teogaisc Ceolta Tire—a course for teaching traditional Irish music delivered by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. Having served as a volunteer with the Birmingham St Patrick’s Festival, the Birmingham Irish Society, Birmingham Irish Association, and two local school governing bodies, Vincent is currently the President of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
Arveene is a DJ and music producer who has been involved in music all his life. He has worked extensively as presenter in various media, as a booker and consultant with brands and organisations, constantly finding himself developing new Irish music talent as well as working on his own endeavours. In addition to a host of remix credits across a ‘who’s who’ of electronic dance music, Arveene has also toured with and supported Liam Gallagher, Nightmares on Wax, The Prodigy, Daft Punk, Leftfield, and Underworld. He has been a host for the Irish Music Week since 2019, and boasts a long list of both TV, radio, and print media on his CV, including shows with Spin FM, 2FM, RTÉ, and MTV. Arveene is a keen promoter of Irish talent around the UK and internationally, and also works as a festival curator. Currently, the Dublin native is a Board member of First Music Contact. He is also a member of the Community Advisory Board for the Office of the Mayor of London advising on the annual St Patrick’s Festival. Arveene also serves on the Board of IamIrish, an organisation celebrating multi-heritage Irish-ness around the globe.
Catriona is the Festival Director of Celtic Media Festival, an international media industry festival celebrating the languages and cultures of the Celtic Nations and Regions in the media and creative industries. She has held the position since June 2011, coming from an extensive background of television production, both studio and OB, as well as rights management. Catriona studied television production in Dublin before working on various productions in entertainment, news, and sports in London and Glasgow.
Grainne is a barrister practising in Garden Court Chambers in London. She has previously lectured in International Human Rights Law at the London School of Economics, where she was a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Human Rights. Grainne is the Chair of the London Irish Lawyers Association.
Niamh is the former Finance Director of the Telegraph Group. She is a chartered accountant and former Vice-Chair of the London branch of the Chartered Accountants of Ireland. Previously, Niamh was Chair and now serves as a trustee of Proms at St Jude’s, a registered charity. She is also a former board member of the Irish Women’s Survivor Support Network (UK).
Photo copyright Viktorija Grigorjevaite
Emma is Artistic Director and CEO of the Liverpool Irish Festival, where she began in 2016. Using cultural connections across the city and an open approach to learning about diaspora communities, Emma has positioned the Festival as a combined arts and culture festival, operating in venues across the city and region. She has organised over 320 Festival events and contributed to many more long-term programmes, including the revitalisation of the Liverpool Irish Famine Trail and the formation of the Cultural Connectedness Exchange Network. The Festival role followed Emma's Directorship of LOOK/15 for the Liverpool International Photography Festival and posts at Bluecoat (culminating in Head of Creative Enterprise) as well as freelance work with many of Liverpool's cultural organisations. A Liverpool fine art and theatre graduate, Emma has over 20 years’ experience in the art, culture and events sector, contributing to successful funding bids totalling over £6m in her career. She is heavily involved in sector networks including Creative Organisations of Liverpool, the Liverpool's Festival Forum and Baobab Foundation and was recently selected by Ireland's Consul General for the North to represent England as part of a Metro Mayoral delegation connecting Manchester, Liverpool, and Dublin.
Ellen has been involved with the Irish community in Britain for nearly 20 years. As former Director of Irish Community Services, she was instrumental in developing and expanding accredited services to meet the needs of the older Irish community in Greenwich, Bexley, and Lewisham. Ellen graduated with a BSc from Surrey University, and spent most of her time working in a variety of nursing roles and working within the charity sector.