New diaspora policy to be debated in public meetings

Ciarán Cannon

A number of public meetings with the Irish community in the UK will be held across the country next month to help the Irish government devise a new diaspora policy.

Workshop-style consultations, hosted by Ireland’s Minister for the Diaspora, Ciarán Cannon, will take place in London, Leeds and Manchester.

The meetings, the Irish government has said, will be a great opportunity for the Irish community in the UK to “have their say on how the government of Ireland can improve its support for, and connections with, the Irish diaspora”.

Irish emigrant feedback and ideas will then be factored into Ireland’s new diaspora policy, expected to be published in 2020.

This coincides with the build-up to an Irish referendum in October, where voters will decide whether or not to extend the vote in presidential elections to Irish citizens abroad.

President Michael D Higgins during a Drivetime interview on RTÉ Radio 1 last year (Rollingnews.ie)

Speaking ahead of the consultations, Minister Cannon said that he hopes these events allow Irish emigrants in the UK shape Ireland’s future diaspora policies.

“Ireland has a long history of emigration, and today an estimated 70 million people comprise the Irish diaspora around the world. We strive hard to support and celebrate the Irish abroad, and this relationship with our global community is something we value strongly,” he said.

“We are currently drafting a new diaspora policy to be published in 2020. This new policy will guide Ireland’s engagement and relationship with our diaspora: our emigrants, our citizens abroad, those of Irish heritage, and those who feel an affinity with Ireland around the world.”

The public meetings will take place in London on 3rd July at the Irish Cultural Centre, Hamersmith at 12:00pm; on 4th July at Leeds Irish Centre and 12pm, and later that day, a second 4th July meeting at the Irish World Heritage Centre in Manchester at 6:00pm.

Topics

Although the topics intended to be explored at the meetings are not limited, the Irish government hope to better understand how Ireland continues to “connect with people in the UK who feel a connection to Ireland”, and to learn how the country can “support and strengthen those long-established Irish communities in the UK” and why and how “these communities are changing”.

“In a changing world, how do we continue to connect with people who feel a connection to Ireland? How can we support and strengthen the connections with established Irish communities abroad? How are Irish communities changing?” Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said.

“These questions represent both a challenge and an exciting opportunity. We must evolve and respond to the changing needs of our diaspora communities, for the benefit of all Irish people, at home and abroad. We want to hear your views on how we can improve our support for, and connections with, the Irish diaspora around the world.”


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