Taoiseach launches diaspora initiative

Thu, Mar 15, 2012, 00:00

EVERY PARISH should get involved in an initiative to attract the Irish diaspora home to visit, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

Speaking at the national launch of Ireland Reaching Out at the National Library in Dublin yesterday, the Taoiseach also said the St Patrick’s Day message to the world this year should be “now is the time to invest in Ireland’s recovery”.

Founded by businessman Mike Feerick, Ireland Reaching Out began in Galway in 2010. It involves local volunteers using “reverse genealogy” to trace the descendants of individuals who emigrated from their parish.

Descendents are then contacted and invited to become part of an extended “virtual” community with their place of origin and to visit the area.

Some 2,500 parishes have become members of the project and have uploaded their details to the project website irelandxo.com.

Mr Kenny said the Government needed no convincing “when it comes to the value and potential of the Irish diaspora to all of us at home and abroad”.

While information and communications technology had been a “key enabler” in bringing the project to fruition, “the real secret of its success has been the dedication and the warmth of the people who have worked so hard to bring this about”.

The Taoiseach said the potential of the diaspora, which exceeds 70 million, and its role in our future was “truly immense”.

“There are few human instincts stronger than the need to belong, and it is not surprising that for many people tracing their genealogy becomes a personal and emotional journey.

“The Ireland Reaching Out initiative is all about enabling and helping people to make that journey if they wish.”