Minister Ahern calls for a national debate on Ireland’s Attitude to its Diaspora
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern T.D., tomorrow hosts a one-day conference on Ireland’s Attitude to the Diaspora. The conference, at Dublin Castle, is intended to be a forward-looking exploration Ireland’s relationship with its Diaspora.
Previewing the meeting, the Minister said: “The time is right to review our approach to our community across the globe and to develop a strategy for the years ahead. Just as the nature of our Diaspora has never been fixed, our attitudes and our capacity to engage with the Irish abroad have changed with our nation’s fortunes. We need to regularly reshape our policies in this key area and this conference will launch that process.
“Maintaining and enhancing our links with our communities abroad has been a particular priority for the Government. This strong commitment is reflected in the unprecedented level of funding for emigrant services now available. This year, €15.2 million is being disbursed to Irish community organisations abroad - the highest amount ever allocated.
“The needs of the Irish community in Britain, in particular of older people and those at risk of social exclusion, remain a key priority. Another priority area is that of our undocumented community in the United States. The legislative debate in the US on immigration reform has entered a critical phase and I remain determined to take every opportunity in contacts with key figures in the US to highlight the importance that the Government attaches to a sympathetic and positive approach to this issue.”
The Minister also said that he was “particularly pleased that a Friends of Ireland US Congressional Delegation will participate at the conference, and that their leader, Congressman Richard Neal, will address the gathering.”
There will be a photo opportunity at 0930 on the Minister’s arrival at Dublin Castle.
Note for Editors
Participation in this conference in Dublin Castle will be in the order of 120, representing industry, the Government, academic bodies, State agencies and other public officials. The media are welcome to attend. Speakers include:
· Paddy O’Hanlon, former Chairman of the Task Force on Emigrants Policy;
· Nickey Brennan, President of the GAA;
· Professor Terri Scott, CEO, Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship, IDA Board Member;
· Dr Ian Adamson, former Lord Mayor of Belfast;
· Tim Pat Coogan, Journalist and Author of “Wherever Green is Worn”, on the Irish DiasporaTop