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Irish Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar Photo by: Niall Carson c/o PA

Plans for Ellis-Island style diaspora center reach standstill

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Irish Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar Photo by: Niall Carson c/o PA

Irish Transport and Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar's proposed plan for an Irish 'Ellis Island' have reached a roadblock, reports the Irish Independent.

In November 2011, the Irish government gave a commitment to support a center for the diaspora abroad, but after 18 months of deliberation, the project has still not been me t with a green light.

Were the center to get the all-clear, the diaspora center/museum would be similar to New York's Ellis Island in that members of the Irish diaspora could trace their Irish roots, rather than mark the date of their emigration.

On request from Varadkar, Failte Ireland began examining how and where the proposed center could be built around a year and a half ago. The study now completed, the minister has yet to come to a decision whether the center will be greenlit, and if so, where it would be established.

In a statement made by a spokesperson for the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, it was said that he center was "never a 'done deal'. It was never going to be possible for the State to fund the construction on its own. so it's a question of what sort of center is possible and whether a partner can be found who is interested in financing the project."

Cobh and Dun Laoghaire have made their own proposals for diaspora centers, independent of the study performed by Failte ireland. The spokesperson added that Varadkar has "floated the possibility of running a competition to see which proposed diaspora center has the best concept and can be funded through existing resources, philanthropy or private enterprise."

Until such a time, the plans for the center remain at a standstill.

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