The Irish Government is to provide more than $2.2 million (€1.8m) to organizations which support vulnerable Irish emigrants in the United States, Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan has announced.

Speaking in New York, where he is meeting with Irish community and business groups, the Minister said, “I am delighted to announce the award of Emigrant Support Programme grants to 34 organizations in the US, totaling over €1.8 million ($2.3m) for 2014-2015. This funding will support projects which address the needs of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable Irish emigrants. It will enable Irish emigrants and Irish community organizations to access vital local services as healthcare, education, and housing. We are also funding community-focused services such as the Irish Heritage Club, Seattle which encourage closer links between Irish communities abroad and Ireland, to the benefit of both."

The funding is part of the Emigrant Support Programme (ESP), which is managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  This year’s allocation is an increase of 7% on 2013 levels.

The largest single recipients are the Irish International Immigration Centre in Boston $256,899 (€206,626), the Emerald Isle Immigration Centre in New York $192,281 (€154,686) and the Chicago Irish Immigrant Support organization $183,808 (€147,862).  These organizations serve as valuable welfare and social hubs and advice providers for Irish emigrants and communities in the United States.  They provide a range of much-needed social services, such as counseling on health, social and financial issues, and impressive social and educational programs which help new immigrants integrate into life in the US.

Minister Deenihan said, “The announcement last month of $15.5 million (€12.5m) in next year’s budget to support emigrants and engage with the diaspora worldwide is a significant achievement.  It means we can maintain the level of Emigrant Support Programme funding and we have secured an additional €1 million for new diaspora projects and initiatives.”

Thanking those who run the centers for their work the Minister noted, “Of course, support would not be possible without the ongoing, dedicated work of the Irish centers and other organizations here in New York and throughout the US.  On behalf of the Irish Government, I thank you for your important work in supporting our community here. Thank you also for your part in promoting Irish culture and preserving our heritage in the US.”

Cultural and heritage grants of over $385,350 (€310,000) are also included as part of this round of grants. This includes a grant of some $124,306 (€100,000) to the Irish Cultural Centre of New England, while the Irish Repertory Theatre in New York will also receive some $58,061 (€46,710).