The clock is ticking on grants

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Charlie Flanagan

By David Hennessy

Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs is urging emigrant groups in this country who have not previously applied for financial support to formally apply for a grant before the end of this month.

The Emigrant Support Programme, as managed by the Embassy of Ireland in London, is especially inviting applications for support from organisations that have not applied before.

It says new projects in geographic areas not previously assisted, saying these applications are particularly welcome.

Any Irish groups wishing to avail of this funding must make their application before the end of this month as the deadline is 25 February.

They will have to fill in a 14-page questionnaire on-line – no paper applications are permitted – that promises to be scrutinised more harshly than in previous years.

The Emigrant Support Programme awarded over £5.1 million to 113 UK-based organisations last year. This was down from £5.4m in 2013.

Nearly a fifth of this money went to two organisations, London Irish Centre in Camden and Irish in Britain, formerly the Federation of Irish Societies.

The grants are available for projects which “address the diverse and evolving needs of Irish emigrants”, “facilitate access to statutory and voluntary services for Irish emigrants” and “foster a more vibrant sense of community and of Irish identity”.

In the 10 years to 2014, ESP funding has assisted over 400 organisations in 26 countries with grants totalling over £85m.

Diaspora Minister Jimmy Deenihan, presenting the current round of grant funding said at the time that Irish groups in this country receiving funding from Dublin will have to work harder to convince TDs they are giving value for money.

He said: “The onus will be on every organisation that receives ESP funding to demonstrate that they are meeting a real need within our community and are maximising the impact of funding awarded.”

Mr Deenihan also said those that do show they are worth it could receive even more while others may find themselves cut off: “We will be encouraging all organisations in receipt of ESP funding to seek external quality marks for the services you are providing. This external validation will strengthen Irish community organisations and endorse any future applications to maintain or increase Irish government funding.”

Mr Deenihan also said that organisations would be encouraged to seek funding from elsewhere not because the Irish government wants to decrease funding but because the government wanted to decrease the reliance on ESP.

Applications for the 2015 round of grants must be made online, where applicants are required to complete a 14-page questionnaire and provide supporting documents where required.

Successful projects must:

• Celebrate and strengthen links between Ireland and the global Irish

• Address the diverse needs of Irish emigrants especially the elderly, disadvantaged and vulnerable

• Facilitate access to statutory and voluntary services in this country

• Foster a vibrant sense of community and of Irish identity

• Further the work of the Global Irish Economic Forum

• Support Irish business networks

• Research and define the emerging needs of Irish communities

• Develop ways to communicate with the in global Irish including non-traditional diasporas

• Improve understanding of the emigrant experience

More information about the Emigrant Support Programme and how to apply for funding is available by calling 020 7235 2171 or visiting www.dfa.ie  or www.irishabroadgrants.ie.

Paper applications will not be accepted.

**NB. In the print edition, the text says that Jimmy Deenihan is pictured, while it is Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan**

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