Development of ‘youth gathering’ for diaspora welcomed
Government would approve plan for children of emigrants, say documents
Children of the diaspora would get a “taste of Irish education” as well as introducing them to Irish history, culture and “maybe an opportunity to trace their roots”.
The Government would welcome the development of a “youth gathering” which would see children of Irish emigrants visit for up to two weeks to introduce them to Irish history and culture, briefing documents prepared for the new Minister of State for the diaspora show.
The recommendation, mooted by the Global Irish Economic Forum last year, suggested that the Government should consider “a one- to two-week Irish emigrant summer programme that would be geared at children of the diaspora aged 12 to 15, akin to a youth gathering or homecoming”.
The trip would give them a “taste of Irish education” as well as introducing them to Irish history, culture and “maybe an opportunity to trace their roots”.
It also suggested that the children might be able to engage with enterprise, possibly through visits to Facebook or Google, “to get a sense of what Ireland’s all about”.
The suggestion was one of more than 60 put forward by working groups during the Irish Economic Forum that took place in Dublin Castle last year and contained in briefing notes prepared for Jimmy Deenihan who became the first Minister of State with special responsibility for the diaspora last month.
Responding to the recommendation the Government said it would welcome such an initiative led by the Global Irish Network or the private sector.
This week a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was not aware of such a project being developed to date but said it is possible that such an initiative was being developed by individual members of the Global Irish Network.
The briefing documents also reveal that, up to the end of May 2014, just 2,510 certificates of Irishness had been issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs since their introduction in September 2011.
Although the scheme is self-funding due to the €40 charged for each certificate, Irish Abroad Unit noted that the department has spent approximately €3,000 on the scheme to date including expenditure on websites and travel costs covering meetings with the Kerry-based company Fexco, which operates the scheme on behalf of the department.
The note states that it was “never anticipated that the certificate of Irish heritage would provide significant revenue”.
Instead the aim of the project was to recognise people of Irish heritage, encourage people to trace their roots and “strengthen links with those of Irish ancestry”, the documents state.
“It is hoped in the longer run there will be economic benefit to Ireland from the certificate through increased tourism, purchasing of Irish goods and services and the expansion of Irish business networks.”
The idea to issue certificates to the descendants of Irish citizens who do not qualify for Irish citizenship was introduced following a recommendation at the Global Irish Economic Forum in 2009.
High-profile gift certificates have been presented to US president Barack Obama, former president Bill Clinton, actor Tom Cruise and former Olympic-winning athlete Sebastian Coe.