Ireland’s first Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan today announced details of £5.1 million in funding for the Irish community in Britain.
The announcement was made at a special event for the 113 organisations who are the recipients of the funding.
Minister Deenihan said: “The Emigrant Support Programme is, and will remain, a key element of our engagement with the Irish abroad. The focus of the ESP in Britain will continue to be on supporting the more vulnerable and marginalised members of the community.”
Notable changes from 2013 funding figures is an £19,300 increase in funding to the Milton Keynes Irish Centre, £20,000 to Leeds Irish Homes and Health and £16,000 to Tyneside Irish Cultural Society.
The London Irish Centre, Irish in Birmingham, Irish in Britain and Coventry Irish Society all experienced a significant reduction in their funding compared to last year.
Since 2004, over €81m has been awarded by the Irish Government, on behalf of the people of Ireland, to organisations that provide vital support to our community here in the UK. This is 71 per cent of the total global budget allocation.
This year, of the total funding provided, £4.5 million relates to organisations providing welfare and information services to the Irish community, particularly the elderly.
The organisations funded provide a host of services, ranging from informal community networking groups for senior citizens, to outreach services and advice in accessing entitlements. The balance will go towards funding heritage and business networks .
On his new role, Minister Deenihan stated: “The establishment of the position of Minister for the Diaspora is a tangible demonstration of the Irish Government’s deep commitment to the Irish community abroad. Ireland’s greatest resource has always been our people and the valuable contribution that our community abroad has made to Ireland throughout our history is widely acknowledged and respected by the Government and the people of Ireland.”
The Minister also said: “We are looking closely at what further work we should be doing to better engage with the Irish community abroad and examining how we can deliver established programmes in a better way. We want our community abroad to continue to feel connected and actively engaged in the development of Ireland. ”
The Minister also highlighted that the Government’s Budget this week, as well as a commitment to maintaining the funding for the Emigrant Support Programme, included an increase in diaspora funding of €1 million in 2015.