The Irish Minister for the Diaspora, Jimmy Deenihan, T.D., announced on December 11 more than €72,000 in funding to provide counseling and suicide prevention services to the Irish community in New York.

Pieta House will receive a grant of €72,258 to extend their crisis services for those considering suicide and self harm to the United States.

The funding will enable Pieta House to set up a pilot programme with the three main Irish centers in New York: the Aisling Center, the New York Irish Center and the Emerald Isle Immigration Center. This will include establishing a “Pieta Room” in the New York Irish Center as the main point of referral for Irish people in crisis in the New York area. Funding will also support the training of counselors and counseling services.

Making the announcement at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children Minister Deenihan noted: “The mental health and wellbeing of our emigrants is an issue that has come up during the consultation process for our diaspora policy review and also in the recent UCD Clinton Institute report on the Emigrant Support Programme. I want to respond to the concerns raised and I believe that programme will prove a valuable resource for those in need of care, support and advice.”

The first Pieta room outside Ireland will be hosted by New York Irish Center and Paul Finnegan, Executive Director said: “This is a timely development, given the increasing emotional difficulties being faced by Irish emigrants in a tough and lonely environment, where there is often little hope, especially among the undocumented. We therefore applaud the extensive and continued concern and support the Government has for its citizens abroad.”

Echoing this, Siobhan Dennehy, Executive Director of The Emerald Isle Immigration Center, said: “We look forward to having our social services team avail of Pieta House’s training, expertise and progress in this arena. This issue has touched the lives of many in our community directly and we applaud the attention the newly appointed Minister for the Diaspora has given to this issue by taking such swift action.”

Orla Kelleher of the Aisling Center said: “We look forward to collaborating with them in providing much needed counseling services to the Irish immigrant communities.”

In addition, Pieta House will work in partnership with the GAA to deliver the Mind Ur Buddy Programme to GAA members in New York. Mind Ur Buddy is a peer support programme designed to help individuals spot when a colleague or teammate may be in suicidal crisis. Pieta House aims to train 500 GAA members in New York.

Colin Regan, GAA Community & Health Manager, noted “The important support network provided by GAA clubs to their members abroad is well documented. Having recently launched our Striving & Surviving in Australia resource at the International Rules game in Perth we are pleased to see Pieta House making available the Mind Ur Buddy programme to GAA members in New York."