Putting diaspora at heart of Irish policy

Putting diaspora at heart of Irish policy
Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with special responsibility for the Diaspora and International Development, Ciaran Cannon. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Ciarán Cannon TD, Ireland’s Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development

This month I was very pleased to publish the first ever ‘Annual Report on Supports for the Irish Abroad’, which showcases the Irish Government’s serious and sustained support for Irish communities around the world.

For me as Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, it is vitally important that Irish communities abroad are better informed about the links that exist between Ireland and the global Irish and the possibility of support through Government funding.

I hope that through this report a greater awareness of the work that is being taken forward all over the world will inspire people to get involved – leading to more ideas, to more innovation and more collaboration between diaspora organisations on projects, making a real and lasting impact for our citizens and communities abroad.


I was pleased to approve over £4.7 million of dedicated funding to Britain in 2017-2018. Funding for 2018-2019 will be announced in October. The 2017-18 funding supported 113 different organisations spread across Britain and supported projects ranging from frontline welfare to Irish arts, culture and heritage.

The mix of organisations funded is testament to the diversity and vibrancy of the Irish community in Britain. I was very happy to continue to support flagship cultural organisations like the Irish Cultural Centre Hammersmith and the London Irish Centre, which are focal points for Irish arts and culture in London.

The London Irish Centre also runs the largest welfare advice service in London. There are also other large organisations, mainly dealing with welfare, which we support in other cities including Irish Community Care in Liverpool, Leeds Irish Health and Homes, and the Birmingham Irish Association.

These and the several dozen smaller welfare, elders, cultural and heritage organisations funded, form the backbone of Irish communities across Britain and particularly in the North and Midlands. We also support the work of the Irish in Britain organisation, who seek to connect and promote the interests of the Irish community.

We maintain a strong commitment to these organisations and their dedicated staff and volunteers, without whom so many essential services would not be delivered. As Minister, on behalf of the Irish Government, I want to acknowledge and thank all those who contribute so much to these endeavours.
This last year has convinced me that we are on the verge of the next great leap in diaspora engagement, building on our efforts and successes since the publication of ‘Global Irish – Ireland’s Diaspora Policy’ in 2015.

This was the first clear Irish Government policy on the diaspora which recognises that Ireland has a unique and important relationship with its diaspora that must be nurtured and developed.


As a Government we have worked tirelessly and ever more efficiently since then in supporting more and more Irish people abroad and the future of this work is being framed in 2018 in more strategic ways.

The intended launch later this year of two whole-of-Government strategies for the Americas and Asia-Pacific regions will see the role of our diaspora reaffirmed The recently launched policy ‘Global Ireland – Ireland’s Global Footprint to 2025,’ affirms the importance of our diaspora and rightly sets out a role for them as we work to expand our overall engagement on the world stage by doubling Ireland’s global footprint.

I have already seen this strategic centrality of our diaspora in action over recent weeks. At the beginning of July I was in New York at the launch of Ireland’s campaign to join the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member in 2021-2022.

I was proud to see our campaign launch – based on the three themes of Empathy, Partnership and Independence – receive so much international support. The campaign launch took place against the backdrop of John Behan’s “Arrival”, a sculpture depicting Irish emigrants disembarking from a ship, gifted by Ireland to the United Nations in 2000.

“Arrival” celebrates the deep and lasting impact that Irish emigrants have had across the world, a legacy that our diaspora continue today.

As we seek to double our global footprint by 2025 we will be putting the citizen at the heart of our expansion. It is hugely welcome that we will have a new Irish Consulate in Cardiff. Similarly we will open new Embassies and Consulates in North America, South America and the Middle East while strengthening existing ones in Europe, America and Asia.

This expansion will undoubtedly benefit local Irish communities and as we double our global footprint by 2025 I am confident that this will also double our worldwide diaspora engagement and outreach at the same time.

Britain is already at the heart of our diaspora engagement and I know that the Embassy in London and the Consulate in Edinburgh work closely with the many Irish organisations across the country to continue to strengthen the vibrant Irish community here.

Many great ideas are being developed by individual organisations around the country and indeed by groups of organisations working together to pool their expertise.

I said in the foreword to the ‘Annual Report on Supports for the Irish Abroad’ that the story of the Irish overseas is above all a human story. I firmly believe this to be true and am constantly reminded of this, in positive and wonderful ways, through my travel and my engagement with our people abroad.

We have come so far together as a people, at home and abroad, and the story of the Irish is now legendary the world over. I look forward to helping write the next chapter and am excited to see where it leads us too.

Ciarán Cannon T.D. is the Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development and is based in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin. You can keep up to date on Minister Cannon’s work through Twitter by following @ciarancannon or @Globalirish.

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