Minister for Foreign Affairs in London to Announce Record Funding for Irish Community in Britain
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, T.D., has announced that grants totalling €10.2million or Stg£8 million are being provided to over 135 Irish organisations in Britain in 2008.
Speaking during a series of engagements with the Irish community in London on 6 November, the Minister said:
“I am delighted to confirm that our funding in 2008 to the Irish community in Britain has reached record levels. This year alone, we will provide a total of over Stg £8million or €10.2million to over 135 organisations throughout England, Scotland and Wales. This (sterling) figure is up by 3% on the 2007 allocation and brings total Government funding to the Irish in Britain over the past five years to €42.5million”.
The Minister said that the bulk of this funding has been targeted at the most vulnerable members of the Irish community, particularly the elderly, and he underlined that the welfare of the most needy abroad would remain a key priority for his Department
Addressing an Irish community reception at the Embassy of Ireland, Minister Martin said:
“I am also very pleased to confirm that, despite the very challenging budgetary situation at home, Irish Government funding for our communities abroad will be maintained at its current high level of just over €15 million in 2009. Against the current economic background, this speaks volumes about the value we place on our Diaspora and our firm resolve to assist those emigrants who are most vulnerable”.
The Minister said that the considerable financial assistance provided by the Government through the Irish Abroad Unit of his Department, had delivered important results:
“By working together, the Irish voluntary organisations and the Government have given a new focus to the Irish community in Britain. Our achievements have been real: we have reduced the levels of poverty within the Irish community, we have significantly lowered the number of Irish people living homeless and we have reduced the sense of isolation and loneliness through the development of a range of services for elderly Irish emigrants throughout Britain”.
Calling for a wide ranging debate about how to further develop and enhance our relationship with our community in Britain and other Irish communities throughout the world, Minister Martin said:
“We face a critical choice in the coming years. As those who emigrated in their thousands from Ireland in earlier decades become older, will we be content to let their legacy be one of nostalgic remembrance of a heroic generation or will we grasp the opportunity that their achievements offer us? I firmly believe that we in Ireland and our communities in Britain and elsewhere have a unique chance to come together, to avail of new global opportunities and technologies and to forge a partnership of which those who went before would be proud”.
During his visit, the Minister also opened a new Government funded day centre for elderly Irish emigrants at the London Irish Centre in Camden and visited the GAA facilities in Ruislip where he met with young people who are benefiting directly from the Government funded GAA Coaching and Development Officer programme.
While in London, the Minister also met with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Shaun Woodward and was guest speaker at the Cooperation Ireland London Dinner.
Note for Editors
Since 1984, the Government has given financial support to voluntary agencies providing advice and welfare services to vulnerable Irish emigrants in Britain. Over €50 million has been allocated to Irish community groups since then, with over €42.5 million being provided over the past five years.
The main focus of the funding remains on frontline welfare service providers that support the elderly, the homeless and people affected by illness or substance abuse problems, as well as services for the Traveller community. However, the eligibility criteria have been expanded to allow consideration of cultural, heritage, leisure and other activities which help to foster community contact and support. This has enabled us to fund new initiatives such as: an oral history project of the Irish in Britain; 10 new GAA coaching and development officers; an FAI welfare officer to provide assistance to young Irish apprentice footballers; and an internet project aimed a establishing an online Irish community in Britain (IN-GB).
In August of this year, the Minister announced grants of €8.21 or Stg£6.45 to support the services provided by over 130 organisations. The latest figures contained in the press release include new capital grant allocations to15 organisations in Britain.
06 November 2008