Ciara Kenny

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

Irish professionals in Australia ‘want to engage with Ireland’

Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce survey shows 72% of members want right to vote in Irish elections

Members of the IACC at a networking lunch for St Patrick's Day in Melbourne earlier this year.

Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 20:30


The Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce published a white paper today on “strategies to enhance diaspora engagement with Australia”, based on a survey of 100 of its members from the Irish business community in Australia.

The publication is well timed, given the appointment of Jimmy Deenihan as Ireland’s first ever Minister of State for the Diaspora in recent days.

The most interesting findings of the survey include:

Respondents expressed a very strong desire to be able to vote in Irish elections, or to have (at least) Seanad representation. 72 per cent of respondents saw their right to vote in Ireland as an important part of maintaining their links with Ireland. Many cited examples of other countries with overseas voting rights and expressed frustration with (potentially) paying taxes in two countries but unable to vote in either.

Respondents still strongly identify themselves as Irish – 93 per cent identified themselves as Irish citizens living in Australia, yet 81 per cent also have Australian citizenship or permanent residence.

There is significant interest in engaging with the Government, and understanding opportunities to return to or otherwise work with Ireland, but current channels are not reaching or engaging these parties.

The IACC’s mentoring programme, which has seen more than 200 young Irish professionals receive guidance and support from experienced business leaders in the Irish-Australian community over the past three years, is cited in the paper as an example of the type of “diaspora initiative” which produces positive results for both Irish emigrants and Ireland.

IACC vice president Fergal Coleman said: “The Business Mentoring Program is a real, on the ground initiative that delivers real and practical results. These are the programs that need fostering and increased support. Our program is delivering tangible results by helping young people progress their careers, develop professional business skills and access business networks. Senior executives and successful entrepreneurs are embracing it as they see it as a vehicle for reconnecting with Ireland by helping newly-arrived young professionals from Ireland.”

Read the full white paper here, and more about the IACC and their mentorship programme in a previous article for Weekend Review here.