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Launch of ‘Global Irish: Ireland’s Diaspora Policy’

Launch of ‘Global Irish: Ireland’s Diaspora Policy’

3 March, 2015

Remarks by Minister Flanagan

Check Against Delivery

Taoiseach, Tánaiste, Minister Deenihan, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here with you today in my role as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to support my colleague, Minister Deenihan, at the launch of Ireland’s first ever statement of policy on our engagement with our diaspora.

Since his appointment, Jimmy has demonstrated clearly that the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste made the right decision in creating the role of Minister for the Diaspora. Jimmy has worked tirelessly since his appointment, meeting Irish emigrants of all ages and their descendants in a wide variety of cities and settings from Brisbane on the East Coast of Australia to San Diego on the West Coast of the United States and many places in between. The many engagements, conversations and discussions that Jimmy has had on these trips have fed into the policy being launched today.

It is fitting that the launch of this Diaspora Policy comes in the same week as the passing of out one of the great giants of our diaspora story and one of the very first recipients of the Presidential Distinguished Service Awards for the Irish Abroad, Don Keough. Don Keough was one of the greatest friends Ireland has ever had, and the impact he had on this country and in the US is immense. I would like to take this opportunity to convey the my deepest sympathy to Don’s wife, Marilyn and the rest of his family, and I hope that this Policy will, in some small way, provide a legacy for a man that embodied all that is good in the Global Irish.

Don Keough, as well as a shrewd businessman and proud Irish American, was a member of the - a network of over 300 of the most influential Irish and Irish-connected individuals, based in almost 40 countries around the world. The Network was established to help get the country back on its feet at a time of grave economic crisis. Although the crisis is past and our economy is growing, the jobs-focussed work of Government continues and the value of the Global Irish Network remains. This Network is a vast resource available to the Government, opening doors and creating opportunities across all walks of life. This Network is the envy of other Governments, many of whom look to us as a world leader to learn about how we engage with our diaspora.

On 19th November this year, we will bring together the Global Irish Network at the fourth Global Irish Economic Forum. The last three Fora have been about recovery, restoring our international reputation, and job creation. The next Forum will continue this work while also reflecting the progress made in turning our economy around and delivering stability and growth. A great deal of work lies ahead to ensure we maximise the potential of the next Forum. As outlined in the Policy, the next Global Irish Economic Forum will have a better gender balance than its predecessors and will aim to be more representative of modern society. I look forward to leading that work.

In conclusion, I congratulate all involved in this policy – I thank my colleagues in Government for their valuable contributions to its development, and I thank Ciarán Madden, Emer Rocke and Claire McCarthy from my own Department for their work. I hope that you agree that it is a very practical roadmap that will allow us to build and work together on the firm foundations that have been laid by generations before us.

I am now pleased to hand over to my colleague, Minister Deenihan.