Dáil Éireann - Volume 643 - 06 December, 2007
Written Answers. - Emigrant Support Services.
Deputy Frank Feighan Deputy Frank Feighan
Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will review funding of Irish welfare centres in Britain in view of the reductions by the boroughs in Birmingham and London; and if he will make representations to British Government in connection with this policy of cutbacks their boroughs are implementing. [33155/07]
Deputy Dermot Ahern Deputy Dermot Ahern
 Deputy Dermot Ahern:Reaching out to and strengthening links with the Irish community in Britain and with those of Irish ancestry is a cornerstone of Government policy. The establishment and operation of the Irish Abroad Unit in the Department of Foreign Affairs has greatly enhanced our capacity to develop and implement more responsive policies in this regard. Government funding to assist our community in Britain will exceed €11.5 million this year. This represents an increase of more than €1 million over the funds made available in 2006. Approximately €50 million has been provided since the Government commenced funding Irish community organisations in 1984. A similar level of funding will be made available in 2008. Applications for funding through the Government’s Emigrant Services programme will be invited early in 2008, and I would encourage those organisations who give valuable assistance to the Irish community in Britain and who need further support to apply for this funding. The primary emphasis of Government funding in Britain will continue to be directed at supporting frontline services. This support for frontline agencies in their social outreach programmes helps them to assist our most vulnerable fellow countrymen and women, including the elderly members of the community susceptible to health and social problems.
Last week’s report by Committee D of the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body on the Irish Community in Britain supports the view that the British Government has a duty of care to the Irish community, and reflects the almost unanimous agreement by the British members of the Committee that the Irish community in Britain should be given more support by the British Government and local authorities. I warmly welcome this report. Unfortunately, however, there has been a policy shift by local authorities across Britain away from funding social and community services for individual ethnic groups. This in places is presenting a challenge for organisations specifically serving the Irish community, who now find themselves in a tougher funding environment. I share the view that the Authorities in Britain should maintain their well established responsibilities to the Irish community in their areas, and I will have this view conveyed through the Ambassador in London.
Dáil Éireann 643 Written Answers. Emigrant Support Services.