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    Cut emigrant services by €1 million, says An Bord Snip

    By Noreen Bowden | July 17, 2009

    A group examining public spending in the light of the crisis in the Irish economy has recommended a number of cuts that would affect services to the Irish abroad. The group, popularly known as “An Bord Snip”, released its report yesterday.

    The report recommends cuts in emigrant services of one million euro. The Department of Foreign Affairs spent €15 million in 2008 on services to the Irish abroad. Of this, about ten million went to Britain, 3.5 million to the US,163,000 to Australia, 146,000 to Canada, and small sums to South Africa, Argentina, Zimbabwe and China. The government spent 1 million on Irish groups providing information to intending and returning emigrants, as well as other services of use to the Irish abroad.

    Additionally, it says the scheme providing free passports to those over 65 should be eliminated. This would save €4.6 million.

    The report also recommends cutting the number of embassies and consulates around the world from 76 to 55. It says embassies in lower priority countries should be sold and moved to leased property. Staff assigned abroad should have their tax-fee Foreign Service Allowance reduced by 12.5%, which would save a million euro. Ambassador posts salaries would also be downgraded.

    It is likely that in a time of rising emigration, these proposed cuts would make providing services to an increasing number of Irish abroad more difficult.

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