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New Irish-Canadian Scholarship Scheme in honour of the late Jim Flaherty

Culture, Irish Abroad, Minister Charles Flanagan, Trade, Press Releases, North America, 2015


In Toronto, Minister Flanagan and Foreign Minister Nicholson to announce new Irish-Canadian Scholarship Scheme in honour of the late Jim Flaherty

Seven scholarships per annum will enhance strategic, trade and cultural links between the two countries

The first day of Minister Charlie Flanagan’s Saint Patrick’s Day programme in Toronto will focus on high-level political, business and Irish Community engagements, during which the Minister will announce new government support for two important Irish-Canadian projects.

Minister Flanagan will brief a 100-guest Enterprise Ireland and Irish-Canadian Chamber of Commerce breakfast event on Ireland’s economic recovery and the potential for further trade and investment between the two countries. Minister Flanagan will meet his new Canadian counterpart, Foreign Minister Rob Nicholson, to discuss ways to enhance the Irish-Canadian economic and trade relationship, focusing on the potential of the new EU-Canada trade agreement (CETA). This agreement has the potential to grow Irish exports to Canada by €250 million a year. The two Ministers will also discuss current foreign policy issues including Ukraine, the Middle East and Iran.
Minister Flanagan and Minister Nicholson will jointly announce the establishment of the James M. Flaherty scholarship.

This scholarship programmes seeks to commemorate the memory of Jim Flaherty, Canada's federal Minister of Finance from 2006 to 2014, who passed away last year. In recognition of the considerable work undertaken by Mr. Flaherty on behalf of Ireland during his lifetime, the Irish and Canadian Governments have partnered with the Ireland Canada University Foundation (ICUF) to support educational exchange between the two countries.

Minister Flanagan will set out the details of the programme at the Ireland Fund of Canada event in honour of Jim Flaherty, which will be attended by 1,200 guests. The Minister will meet the late Mr Flaherty’s wife, Christine, members of his family, as well as Mr Flaherty’s successor as Finance Minister, Joe Oliver.

Minister Flanagan commented:

“Jim Flaherty was a true friend of Ireland and I am delighted that the Irish Government will be in a position to join with the Canadian government in providing funding to establish a world-class academic scholarship in his memory. I believe that the ties of friendship which join our two countries, and which were exemplified in the life of Jim, will be further strengthened as a result of this scholarship programme.

“Last year Minister Noonan spent St. Patrick's Day in Toronto with Jim Flaherty, his close friend. Jim leaves a remarkable legacy, not just in terms of his contribution to Ireland, but also in terms of his remarkable commitment to public service and his exceptional record as Canadian Finance Minister. I hope that this scholarship will encourage young people in Canada and Ireland to emulate Jim's legacy.”

Later today, Minister Flanagan will visit the Ireland Park famine memorial in Toronto. Together with the Mayor of Toronto, John Tory, and other city councillors, the Minister will announce joint funding for a memorial in honour of George Robert Grasett, Toronto’s chief medical officer who died while caring for arriving Irish famine victims. The Irish Government’s contribution to the memorial, made through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Emigrant Support programme, will amount to €105,000.

The Minister will then take part in the 400-guest St Patrick’s Day Grand Marshal Reception honouring Toronto Chief of Police, Bill Blair.


Press Office

13 March 2015

Notes for Editors

· The late Jim Flaherty, Canada's federal Minister of Finance from 2006 to 2014 was of part Irish descent. Mr. Flaherty was a strong supporter of all things Irish and consistently spoke on the country’s behalf at the World Bank, where he was Vice President, and also in the IMF.

· Mr Flaherty’s political career began in 1995. From 1995 until 2005, he was the Member of Provincial Parliament for Whitby-Ajax, and a member of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party caucus and unsuccessfully sought the leadership of the provincial party on two occasions. He held the post of provincial Minister of Finance for Ontario (2001–2002). He practised law for 20 years before formally entering politics in 1995. He was a founding partner of Flaherty Dow Elliott. As a youth he was an avid hockey player and won a hockey scholarship to Princeton University.

· Jim Flaherty was born into an Irish Catholic family in Montreal, Quebec in 1948. He traced his family roots to Galway. His parents were from the Canadian Atlantic Province of New Brunswick. That Province was the destination for a large numbers of Irish settlers, many of whom fled the famine in Ireland. There are a number of large famine gravesites in the Province and Jim Flaherty had a family member buried in one of the largest at Partridge Island. One of his last initiatives as Finance Minister was to secure funding for the restoration of the Celtic cross at Partridge Island where almost 2,000 victims of the Irish famine are interred.

· Mr. Flaherty passed away in 2014 and posthumously received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award from President Higgins in October 2014. The award was accepted by his widow; Ms Christine Elliott. Minister Flanagan also hosted Mr Flaherty’s former Finance Ministry colleague and current Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, for an Iveagh House Lecture in honour of Mr Flaherty, held in January 2015.

· The James M. Flaherty Scholarship will be administered by the Ireland Canada University Foundation (ICUF) on behalf of the Irish and Canadian governments. It will seek to target leaders, or future leaders, in their academic field whose work will fulfil one or some of the following;

o contribute to greater collaboration between both countries in areas of public service, economics and trade;
o contribute to a greater shared cultural understanding between both countries;
o explore areas of strategic importance to both countries, such as energy, transport, communications, natural resources and environmental sustainability; and
o open ways in which the Irish diaspora in Canada and the Canadian diaspora in Ireland can deepen their engagement with their country of origin.

· The Ireland Park Foundation is responsible for a prominent Irish famine memorial in Toronto. Opened in June 2007 by former President Mary McAleese in the presence of former Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and the then Premier of Ontario Dalton McGinty, the Park features Rowan Gillespie statues of arriving desolate Irish migrants which mirror those on the quayside in Dublin. There is also a memorial wall, made of Kilkenny marble, and which is engraved with the names of approx 650 victims.

· It is estimated that up to 20,000 Irish famine victim lie buried in mass Canadian graves in Montreal, Partridge Island, Grosse Isle, Hamilton Kingston, Cornwall and other locations. There are two major famine gravesites in Toronto, with somewhere approx 1,200 Irish lie buried.

· The arrival of the famine Irish had a traumatic effect on Toronto and many of those who administered to the Irish fell victim themselves including the Chief Medical Officer George Grasett and Catholic Bishop Patrick Power. It is now planned to open a new memorial in the form of a satellite park to commemorate those Canadian victims of the famine. It will be named Grasett Park, after the Toronto medical officer Dr George Grasett.

· From the Irish side both the scholarship and the Grasett Memorial will be funded under the Emigrant Support Programme (ESP), which is managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.