Minister for the Diaspora, Jimmy Deenihan, and a renewed diaspora relationship

Jimmy Deenihan, Diaspora Minister Jimmy Deenihan was recently appointed as the first Minister of State for the Diaspora and has been quick to say that “to implement a new strategy I have to move very fast.” With a maximum of 20 months in office before the next general election the focus is on priorities and what is achievable.

The Minister has already indicated one area he is considering; an online register where emigrants hoping to return could submit details of their skills, however this is a bit vague and as yet difficult to determine how it would be employed.

How Ireland can better engage with its communities abroad also appears to be part of the remit, as well as welfare support for vulnerable and elderly Irish abroad, business and tourism schemes, and social-media initiatives to engage younger emigrants.

There are also a number of legacy areas which will presumably be joining the in tray, and compiling the list it becomes apparent the Minister has a fair bit to think about:

- Emigrant Voting Rights
- Undocumented Irish (US)
- Forgotten Irish (UK)
- Emigrant Support Programmes
- Global Irish Economic Forum
- Global Irish Network
- National Diaspora Centre
- Emigrant Register
- Diaspora Tourism
- Evolving Diaspora Engagement

How much can be delivered within 20 months? Maybe one or two key areas combined with a couple of quick wins, and at this point it’s tempting to get into previous commitments and the pros and cons of each particular topic. A better approach however might be to consider the longer term. A new diaspora policy is due to be published in the coming months and hopefully this will communicate a vision, an overall strategy, and a path to deliver that strategy effectively. It should ideally be cohesive enough to outlive the life of a government.

By all means, yes, some quick wins, but given that the revised policy will shape future engagement it is probably the most important aspect of his tenure. If the Minister can set strong foundations for a renewed diaspora relationship, that transcends the term of political office, it will be solid progress.



Minister for the Diaspora, Jimmy Deenihan, and a renewed diaspora relationship — 5 Comments

  1. Votes for the Irish abroad must be the first goal to be delivered. The Constitutional convention has already recommended it.

    I agree completely with the above list of priorities. Delivery is the issue. Looking at the ‘expressions of interest’ aired to date regarding a National Diaspora Centre it is abundantly clear that the primary motivation is income generation rather than recognition for the Irish abroad. I would hope that might change but am not holding my breath. Such attitudes will determine the character and effectiveness of policy in all the areas listed.

    My personal dream is to see a small centre somewhere in the West (or possibly in Dublin) dedicated solely to Irish Migrant Labour where the men and women of previous generations who earned their bread by the sweat of their brow are celebrated. I would be prepared not only to embed my Navvies Archive in such a centre but even to help build and man it.

  2. Hi Ultan,

    The idea of hosting the Navvies Archive in the (yet to be realised) Diaspora Centre is an excellent one. Hopefully someone will sit up and take notice.

  3. Ultan,

    hi, nice idea for ‘labour stories’ in national diaspora centre, navvies and all! If the proposed centre is to have broad appeal it will need stories such as you suggest, and more besides.

  4. What I would suggest to the newly appointed minister is a register of all those citizens abroad to which he must respond as a public SERVANT. I am still your boss, even if you have put up walls of legislation to prevent me from voting. I am an Irish citizen and ye clowns work for ME! A proper register of irish citizens abroad with a revision of my voting rights would be greatly appreciated, not to mentoon long overdue.

  5. For a flavour of what my Archive contains see:

    Listen back to some of the recorded interviews here:

    I have over 40 hours of similar material featuring both genders. Also many photographs, personal correspondence, and official documents. Most importantly, I have a uniquely overarching knowledge, based on twenty years’ research, of the subject for purposes of understanding and interpretation

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