Minister Cannon T.D. Foroige speech in New York
Speech10 February 2018
Wonderful to join you all this morning and to be welcomed at the Irish Immigration Centre.
The Center is a vital resource for the Irish community in this city: both in terms of service provision, but also in terms of community engagement at every level.
Well done to John O’Malley, Chairman of the Board of the Centre, and to Leslie Alcock, Director, and all the team here at the Centre.
I know that the Centre has had a long partnership with the Irish Government through the Emigrant Support Programme, and I am proud as Minister to see your excellent work first hand, and to continue to support you in that work
Today is an important day. And it’s an important day in a week of ‘firsts’. I know the Philadelphia Eagles had a very important ‘first’ this week! And I am personally delighted that this is my first visit to Philadelphia in my role as Minister. This is a great Irish city with a vibrant Irish community, active at every level of society, business and community. The most important first of course is that we’re here to launch the ‘first’ international Foróige Club outside of Ireland together.
Thank you to Ceara Ryan, Chair of Foróige Philadelphia, and all your fellow Club members for leading us today - and for setting out to us all why Foróige is important to you, and what you are learning together.
Sandra and Karen from Foróige travelled a long way to join us today – and I know they, like me, are heartened by what you have said and how you are championing the Club.
And I’m here because I truly want to learn from you and your experience. As Minister for the Diaspora, I want to make sure that young people all over the world with Irish heritage connect with Ireland, and each other.
Some of you will have seen the results of a survey conducted by Ámarach Research, published in Irish Central last autumn, and supported by the Emigrant Support Programme.
One of the most striking findings is that younger Irish Americans are not as interested in the same clubs and organisations that their parents and grandparents were part of. That’s not too surprising but we have to act now and find and support new ways to interest and connect young people to their heritage and to Ireland. It’s clear to me today that Foróige are showing us the way.
The young members of this club, as well as those who take an active interest in Gaelic sports and Irish music here in Philadelphia, and those who are interested in their heritage, represent the future of the Philadelphia – Ireland relationship and the US Ireland relationship. And that is a really important relationship that we must sustain, and develop in the years to come.
Thank you all, and keep up the great work!