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Minister Cannon T.D. remarks at the launch of Irish Studies GIS at Paris 3 Sorbonne University

President, Ambassador, Professors, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a real pleasure for me to join you today in Paris for the launch of this new research network.

The establishment of this network is important, not only in the positive effect it will have on the teaching and research of Irish studies, but also in your ability to work together on gathering resources and engaging with the Irish government.

We, in the Irish Government, value greatly your work and I am very pleased to announce today that the Government will provide €10,000, through the Irish Government Emigrant Support Programme, to the network to support the establishment of the group and to support a research project on the Irish diaspora in France.

The Ambassador and her colleagues speak very highly of the level of research and events organised by the eighteen universities in the network, and through the Society of Irish Studies in France.

I encourage you all to reinforce your contact with the Embassy and share the results of conferences and research which you organise.

It is particularly notable that the network will commission a report on the size and nature of the Irish community in France, both modern and historic. This will help shape our engagement with this country, which has such a deep history with Ireland. I look forward with personal interest to receiving the result of this research, and the depth it will provide in informing our planning in the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin and Trade and in Paris.

The Irish Government Emigrant Support Programme, through which we are supporting this new research network, is an annual fund of €11.6 million through which we support projects which benefit Irish community groups all around the world.

There is huge demand for these funds from our diaspora. For example, the Irish Abroad Unit of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is currently assessing over 400 applications for this year's funding period.This shows the huge competition there is for these grants and reflects the thought and professionalism of this Global Irish Studies programme.

I would personally like to encourage more Irish groups here in France to explore the possibility of obtaining funding for their projects under the Emigrant Support Programme.

Applications received from France this year include Irish language projects, sport and culture projects, business networking projects and alumni projects. This demonstrates the diverse range and areas of common interest which keep our Irish family in France and around the world connected to each other and to home.

On this note, I would encourage all of you here, as Irish community representatives and as Ireland’s representatives to your communities, to continue the extremely worthy and valuable work that you have done in your field of interest which works to keep our diaspora connected to Ireland and to each other.

For my part, I will continue to be a voice at home and in Government, not only for Irish citizens abroad, but for the millions more who identify with or feel a connection to Ireland, with whom we strongly wish to stay connected, for our benefit and for theirs.

Thank you.

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