Ireland is considered among the top five countries in the world for "diaspora engagement", but what does this mean in practice? The Global Diaspora and Development Forum, being held in Dublin this weekend, is hearing about the standout initiatives by the Government, private businesses, communities and individuals which have contributed to Ireland's top spot.
Based on a similar Homecoming initiative in
in 2009, the year-long Gathering encouraged communities to organise “gatherings” to attract the diaspora to visit Ireland in 2013. More than 250,000 people attended about 5,000 events.
This year, IPB Insurance with
and 34 local authorities introduced a community tourism initiative aimed at the diaspora to continue the successes of the Gathering. The annual €1 million fund over three years will support 700 community events and festivals.
Ireland Reaching Out
Instead of waiting for people of Irish descent to trace their roots, IrelandXO works the other way. More than 500 parishes are tracing their diasporas and encouraging people to become involved, resulting in a boost to tourism and economic activity.
Worldwide Ireland Funds
Founded in 1976, this philanthropic association aims to be “the largest network of friends of Ireland, dedicated to supporting programmes of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education and community development”. It has raised over $480 million in 12 countries for more than 3,000 Irish non-profit organisations.
Established as part of the Government’s action plan for jobs in 2012 to motivate people to recommend Ireland to companies. “Connectors” are rewarded with €1,000-€2,500 for each sustainable job created. More than 30,000 connectors are registered.
County diaspora groups
New regional platforms are connecting with members of the diaspora from a specific place, similar to the county associations in the US. For example, the
Kerry Diaspora Business
Network encourages Kerry people abroad to promote their county. Similar examples include the Cork Foundation (
) and Global
Irish Networks USA
Based in US cities, Irish Networks connect newly arrived professionals with the Irish community. Through mentoring, members “develop relationships that will foster success”.
WildGeese Network of Irish Scientists
Established in 2011 to connect Irish scientists living abroad, WGNIS highlights achievements, job and funding information, and facilitates mentoring.
Irish Technology Leadership Group
A non-profit body based in Silicon Valley of Irish or Irish-American global technology leaders. Their Diaspora 2016 project aims to list 100 business leaders who wish to help Ireland’s economic recovery.
Universities, institutes of technology and independent colleges across Ireland founded Uversity for the study of heritage, arts and culture.
Irish International Business Network
Headquartered in London with chapters in New York and Ireland, the IIBN aims to “connect Irish entrepreneurs and business people globally”. The Future Leaders mentoring programme matches diaspora members with executives and entrepreneurs.
Irish Abroad Unit, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Established in 2004 to support both vulnerable and successful Irish emigrants:
Emigrant Support Programme (ESP) The ESP has provided €114 million to non-profit organisations and projects supporting Irish communities abroad in the last decade. Most funding is allocated to frontline welfare services.
Global Irish Network Formed in 2010, GIN is made up of 350 influential Irish and Irish-connected people in over 40 countries, who provide Ireland with international expertise, focusing on economic development. globalirishforum.ie
Farmleigh Fellowships Now in its fourth year, the Farmleigh Fellowship has provided scholarships in Asia worth €30,000 to 65 young Irish people to promote greater trade, investment and talent connections between Ireland and Asia. farmleighfellowship.com
Certificate of Irish Heritage
A Government initiative to recognise “the enduring emotional ties and sense of identity bestowed by Irish ancestry” grants certificates to people with Irish connections.
Centenarian Bounty On reaching their 100th birthday, Irish citizens living abroad receive a €2,540 cheque and a letter from the President.
Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad Recognises service to Ireland or to Irish communities abroad by people outside Ireland. Recipients in 2014, presented on Thursday, include actress Fionnula Flanagan, EU civil servant Catherine Day, Thomas Kenneally and Niall O'Dowd.
There are 439 GAA clubs outside Ireland, which provide a social, emotional and sporting connection to home.
Irish Pubs Global
Irish pubs abroad have played an important role for the diaspora by providing a social and cultural hub. Irish Pubs Global connects many of the 7,000 Irish pubs around the world.
Initiatives include online platforms such as
in this newspaper, and
, the largest Irish website in the US, and long-standing print publications including
(Scotland) and Irish television.
Irish International Diaspora Centre Trust
Set up with the aim of creating a world-class centre to commemorate the experiences and achievements of the Irish diaspora, while educating visitors from abroad. Bids from groups interested in developing the centre are being assessed by Fáilte Ireland.
Ireland Park Canada
Rowan Gillespie’s haunting sculptures of famine emigrants on Dublin’s Custom House Quay are matched by figures on the waterfront in Toronto, depicting impoverished Irish seeking out a new life in Canada.
1986 by Irish-born business people to provide newly arrived Irish with a place to meet others. It hosts networking breakfasts, golf events, and the annual Landsdowne Club Awards.
A business network established in 2010 for French and Irish people, enabling them to share knowledge and ideas, create opportunities and communicate interests.
Northern Irish Connections
Forges connections for
across the globe in the areas of investment, innovation, education, tourism, and digital marketing. It is supported by Belfast Harbour,
, University of
and Invest Northern Ireland.
An Irish crowd-funding company that focuses on lending money to SMEs in Ireland. Members of the Irish diaspora are encouraged to fund companies from Ireland.
Ireland INC hosts events to promote Irish business interests worldwide in financial services, energy, telecoms, technology, food and beverage, life sciences, tourism and service.
This list is based on the "Top 25 Irish Diaspora Projects" compiled by Irish consultancy Diaspora Matters. For the full version, as well as a list of 75 top world diaspora initiatives, see diasporamatters.com