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    Foreign Affairs Minister outlines new relationship

    By Noreen Bowden | December 14, 2007

    Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern has published an article outlining Ireland’s relationships with the Irish abroad. In “Ireland’s New Approach to its Diaspora”, available in full on the website, Minister Ahern outlines the changes that have taken place in recent years.

    He notes that the Diaspora is vast:

    The dimensions of our Diaspora are breathtaking. In the last US census, 36 million people declared an Irish link. The figures for Britain, Australia, Argentina, Canada and New Zealand are equally impressive. Large numbers are also to be found in South Africa and Zimbabwe, and increasing numbers of Irish-born people are living in Spain and other Mediterranean countries.

    Minister Ahern also notes that changes in Ireland, including the peace process and economic success have allowed Ireland to re-evaluate the relationship with the Irish abroad. This has resulted in a tremendous increase in funding, up to €15.2 million this year, and increasing to planned spending of €34 million a year in the lifetime of the current administration. He details the spending in Britain, the US, Canada, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand and Zimbabwe.

    Minister Ahern concludes:

    Regular newspaper articles and TV programmes show that there has never been so much interest at home in the Diaspora. Irish people are travelling abroad in huge numbers and meeting members of our Diaspora in many of the countries they visit. Our Constitution has been changed to reflect the new commitment to the overseas Irish, enshrined in the amended Article 2. New structures have been established by the government through the Irish Abroad Unit to coordinate our policy in this area and to provide funding, when appropriate, to projects relating to the Diaspora. It is a very exciting time with much happening. We have to ensure that we maintain the interest of our communities abroad in Ireland as the generations go by. I am confident we can meet that challenge. I am fully committed to maintaining this new outreach to our people – our global family – overseas.

    See the entire article on the website.

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