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Minister McHugh lends support to Pieta House "Darkness into Light" events

- Irish communities in nine countries will be organising “Darkness Into Light” events
- Global Irish Civic Forum will discuss mental health issues affecting Irish people abroad

The Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Joe McHugh TD, this morning joined Senator Joan Freeman of Pieta House, in the margins of the Global Irish Civic Forum which Minister McHugh is hosting at Dublin Castle, to raise awareness of this weekend’s ‘Darkness Into Light’ event.
Senator Freeman is one of some 220 delegates attending the Global Irish Civic Forum today and tomorrow, where she will participate in a discussion on mental health issues amongst Irish communities overseas.
The “Darkness Into Light” event now has a strong international dimension, with ‘Darkness Into Light’ walk/runs being organised by local Irish communities in nine countries: Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Iceland, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom.
Speaking about the event, Minister McHugh said:
“I am delighted to join Senator Freeman to raise awareness of ‘Darkness Into Light’, an initiative which is supported by many of the diaspora in diverse locations all over the world. I myself will be participating in the “Darkness into Light” walk in in the Falcarragh Park Run in Ballyconnell, Falcarragh in the early hours of Saturday morning and I am looking forward to seeing a beautiful dawn break over Donegal as we walk in support of this wonderful cause that means so much to so many people.
“The welfare of our diaspora lies at the heart of our Emigrant Support Programme and the  Global Irish Civic Forum offers us an opportunity, at a dedicated workshop which takes place this this afternoon,  to discuss how best to address mental health issues as they affect Irish people living abroad.
“I wish all of the participants in this weekend’s ‘Darkness Into Light’ events, in Ireland and globally, the very best of luck and I am certain this year’s event will be a resounding success”.
Senator Freeman said:
"As the founder of Pieta House and Darkness into Light, I realised very early on that we in Pieta were only the facilitators of an organisation and event that captured the imagination and the hearts of our nation. We have witnessed our country unite on one day of the year – where men, women and children from villages and towns throughout Ireland as well as Irish communities all over the world, come together in unison to fight the fight against suicide. 
“I am humbled to be part of that movement and am incredibly excited to be taking part in the walk in Dublin's Phoenix Park this weekend."
The Global Irish, Ireland’s Diaspora Policy, acknowledges the particular challenges emigration and the experience of living away from home can place on emigrants’ mental health, especially the most vulnerable.
Welfare is the heart of the Emigrant Support programme, established by the Government in 2004. The Programme has funded a number of counselling services and Irish community wellbeing and wellness projects, such as the Immigrant Counselling and Psychotherapy project in Britain and Pieta House in the United States.
This year there will be roughly 150 ‘Darkness Into Light’ venues in Ireland and across the world – from Australia and New Zealand to the UAE and Korea, as well as a number of locations in Europe.