The initial budget allocation for Ireland's Emigrant Support Programme will be the highest ever in 2024.
"I am pleased to announce an additional allocation of €1.5 million to the Government's Emigrant Support Programme, which supports Irish community organisations all over the world," Ireland's Minister for International Development and Diaspora, Seán Fleming TD, said on Tuesday as Ireland's Budget 2024 was announced.
"This will bring the ESP initial budget allocation for 2024 to €15.395m, the highest ever, which is very fitting as we prepare to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the programme in 2004.
"Supporting our diaspora remains a key priority for this Government and this budget delivers for Irish communities and for Irish heritage and culture all over the world.”
Through the Emigrant Support Programme (ESP), which is administered by the Irish Abroad Unit of Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Irish Government provides financial support to organizations engaged in the delivery of front-line advisory services and community care to Irish emigrants, particularly to the more vulnerable and marginalized members of our community abroad, including the elderly.
The ESP also facilitates Irish Government investment in a range of cultural, community and heritage projects, which foster a vibrant sense of Irish community and identity, as well as strategic capital projects.
Ireland's DFA says that the ESP has assisted more than 530 organizations in some 37 countries with grants totaling over €220 million since its inception in 2004. Grants have ranged from small amounts for grass-roots groups to major allocations awarded to voluntary and community organizations operating on a large scale.
For the 2022 - 2023 year, the Irish Abroad Unit received funding requests from over 340 organizations; €13,277,462 in grants were ultimately awarded. The current funding year runs from July 1, 2023, until June 30, 2024.
Meanwhile, the Emigrant Support Small Grants Scheme was announced earlier this year as part of the Government’s Emigrant Support Programme. It offers grants of €10,000 or less to organizations working with members of the Irish diaspora around the world.
In June, Minister for the Diaspora Seán Fleming was in New York City to meet with recipients of Emigrant Support Programme funding.
"The funding we give is an expression of the Government of Ireland's support for them, for the work they're doing for the Irish who are here so many years," Fleming told IrishCentral.
He said that the Emigrant Support Programme is primarily geared toward welfare support for older people, but it recently found that it's funding organizations that are "promoting Irish art, Irish culture, Irish music to an extent that we maybe haven't before.
"And that's broadening the attraction of the work these organizations are doing outside just the Irish emigrants and that's really important as well."
Fleming discussed why the Irish government continues to financially support its emigrant community: "For the here and now, a lot of Irish people, elderly people abroad, they need support. Because they supported Ireland over the years.
"There's a famous thing, the emigrants always used to send money home. And now, that flow of income doesn't happen because it's not required anymore, and that's really good.
"But those people who did all that, they're elderly now and we have an obligation, a duty, to support them, which we do."