Dermot Ahern to meet Irish Emigrant Groups in London
Mr. Dermot Ahern, T.D., Minister for Foreign Affairs, will be in London on 15th and 16th December to meet with voluntary groups working with vulnerable Irish people.
“I wanted to come to London to meet the groups working at the coalface with our vulnerable people. I wanted in particular to thank them in person for their dedicated work and to assure them of our strong and on-going support for their efforts. I wanted to emphasise also that this is an important area of national policy, which is being given high priority by the Government. I have had previous contact with many of these groups, including during my time as Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs, and this is a very welcome opportunity for me to renew contacts on the ground in Britain.”
The Minister said that he is particularly pleased that funding for emigrant services in 2005 will be double the significant amount originally allocated for 2004. A high percentage of this will be made available to groups in Britain.
“Organisations in Britain will receive some €7 million during 2005. This very significant figure will represent an increase in funding of 60% over 2004. It is the highest sum ever allocated to emigrant services in Britain and means that funding will have increased five-fold in five years. This, I'm pleased to say, has been very warmly welcomed by those working in the field in Britain - people whose sense of deep community spirit enriches all of us, at home and abroad.”
Note for Editors
During his visit to London, Minister Ahern will visit the London Irish Centre in Camden and the Cricklewood Homeless Concern. Both of these organisations are this year receiving additional Díon funding towards building projects. He will also visit the Safe Start Foundation in Cricklewood, an employment, training and accommodation charity with a particular focus on young people.
Since 1984 the Irish Government has given financial support through the Díon Fund (from the Irish word for 'shelter') to voluntary agencies providing advice and welfare services to vulnerable Irish emigrants in Britain. Díon funding is allocated by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the basis of recommendations from the Díon Committee, an advisory committee on welfare issues for the Irish in Britain.
€22 million has been allocated to the Díon fund since 1984. Over half of this amount - €13.5 million – has been distributed in the last five years (2000-2004). €4.3 million is being distributed in 2004, an increase of two-thirds on 2003.
Funding for emigrant services in 2005 will be significantly higher than 2004. Of a total allocation in 2005 of €8.27 million, the allocation to Díon is likely to be in the region of €7 million in recognition of the particular issues of concern that arise in Britain and the needs identified by organisations that are active in the voluntary sector.
Recipients of Díon grants are organisations that provide advice, counselling and support services to Irish people in need in Britain. Priority targets for funding are services that support the elderly, the homeless and people affected by illness or substance misuse problems, as well as the Traveller community.
The establishment within the Department of Foreign Affairs of a new Dedicated Unit focussed entirely on matters relating to our emigrants has further enhanced the Department's capacity and effectiveness in this area. This important initiative is facilitating the Government's efforts and relationship with the Irish community in Britain and elsewhere.