Plans for National Diaspora Centre announced

Minister for Tourism says venture will tell the story of the Irish abroad

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar TD and Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD , are joined by dancers Shauna McCarthy (left) from Ballyfermot, and Lori Hall, Shankill, at the opening of Tourism 2020 at Killiney, Co Dubin, yesterday. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar TD and Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD , are joined by dancers Shauna McCarthy (left) from Ballyfermot, and Lori Hall, Shankill, at the opening of Tourism 2020 at Killiney, Co Dubin, yesterday. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

A new National Diaspora Centre is to be built recognising the huge number of Irish people who have emigrated through the centuries, it has been announced.

Cabinet approval was given last week to the venture which the Government believes has the potential to become a major tourism attraction.

The announcement comes on foot of a Fáilte Ireland report which concluded such a centre would be viable and self-financing and would enhance Ireland’s tourism offering.

The centre would cost between €5 million and €26 million depending on the approach taken with the capital cost likely to be considerably less if an existing building can be found.

Fáilte Ireland has now been charged with looking for expressions of interests in building the centre which will have limited exchequer involvement.

No decision has been made on where to locate it.

Minister for Tourism, Transport and Sport Leo Varadkar said the centre will have to “wash its own face” as exchequer funds are scarce.

“The State’s finances remain extremely constrained, and we are not in a position to develop the Centre from our own resources.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make it happen. That is why we have decided to progress this project through a partnership process,” he said.

He said the centre had to be of interest, not only to people within the Irish diaspora, but other overseas tourist.

“We are looking at a partner who can help to fund it and build it,” he said. “The work done by Fáilte Ireland suggests that it should tell the story of the Irish diaspora overseas. It should also tell the story of how Irish people view the world.

“There will also be a different story about how Irish emigration changed Ireland over the years and that is the kind of place we want it to be in. This is going to be something unique.”

The expressions of interest will be assessed first by the Fáilte Ireland executive.

Their findings will be forwarded to, alongside the expressions of interest, to a committee comprising an independent chairman and representatives of relevant Departments and other interested parties. Following consideration of the proposals, the Minister will l advise Government if a suitable partners have been found.