Minister of State Ciarán Cannon, TD - Hanoi’s Irish Community
Speech13 November 2018
· As Minister with responsibility for the Diaspora and International Development, I have a strong commitment to promoting Ireland’s engagement in Vietnam in areas of development cooperation and, of course, I have a particular interest in connecting with and supporting our diaspora.
· Over the last year I have travelled to the US and Canada, mainland Europe and Africa including Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa and then on to the Middle East and even Fiji! We Irish truly are everywhere. It has made me very proud to see at first hand the role played by our global Irish community.
· It is extremely important for me to have this opportunity to meet with you this evening and to share with you the Government’s initiatives to ensure we maintain our connection with – and provide support to – our global Irish, and to hear your perspectives on what is most useful to you.
· But first and foremost, I would like to thank each of you for the time you invest in the promotion of Ireland, and for your engagement with and support to the work of the Embassy. I know each of you contribute in different ways to the promotion of a very positive image of Ireland, not least through the ways in which you engage with Vietnamese community and society.
· I know some of you are active members of the VietCelts GAA team and I very much look forward to seeing you play in Bangkok later this week. I would like to thank you for your enthusiastic promotion of Irish sports and, particularly, the inclusive nature of our culture. Your engagement with Blue Dragon here in Hanoi is a wonderful example of the promotion of our values through sports. Your support to your fellow GAA enthusiasts – if rival competitors! - in Ho Chi Minh City and more recently in Cambodia is also a shining example of the values we wish to bring to our engagement overseas.
· I’m delighted that we can provide support to both the VietCelts and the Saigon Gaels through the GAA Global Games development fund and I hope that funding will assist you in growing the reach of the GAA here in Vietnam.
· I know that there were a number of respondents from Vietnam to the survey conducted by my Department on the needs of the diaspora in Asia and would like to express my thanks to any of you who may have responded to that survey. It is extremely important to us to receive this kind of information to allow us to ensure that, where possible our policies and services better match your needs.
· I know from the Ambassador that the Embassy in Hanoi also conducted an assessment this year of perceptions and needs in relation to the Embassy’s communication platforms and, again, would like to sincerely thank those of you who may have participated in this assessment.
· All of these initiatives, and your engagement with them, help to better inform the work of my Department in developing the Government’s support for the Diaspora and for those who wish to return home to Ireland. Much of this work goes on behind the scenes, whether it be our funding of support programmes, evolving and implementing related policies, or deepening our research and understanding of the newer Irish communities around the world. It was important for me that we brought all of this together into the Report on Support for the Irish Abroad which I published in July. This gives a good sense of the range and depth of what we do to develop and maintain connections with the Irish abroad, and which is available for you to view on my Department’s website.
· I’d also like to update you on the recent decision of the Government to hold a referendum next May 2019 proposing a change to our Constitution to allow Irish citizens resident outside the State, including in Northern Ireland, to vote in Irish presidential elections. The Government and I will be campaigning for a yes vote in this election, and I believe the participation of Irish people around the world in the debate, will be crucial in securing a positive result.
· These are all steps in our overall work to build and deepen links between those who live in Ireland, those who live outside Ireland and those who move between.
· But now I would like to hear from you and take home with me some messages about the experience of the Irish diaspora in Vietnam and how better we can keep in touch with you and support you.