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Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Bishop calls for 'agency for the Irish abroad'
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¬†The Bishop of Derry, Seamus Hegarty, has called on the Irish government ≠ to establish an "Agency for the Irish Abroad" as a matter of priority. Bishop Hegarty was responding to the findings of an RTE Prime Time documentary Ireland's Forgotten Generation", broadcast last night, which highlighted the poverty and depressing conditions that many post-war Irish emigrants to London continue to endure to this day. Bishop Hegarty, who chairs the Irish Episcopal Commission for Emigrants (IECE) said: "Ireland must now give more than just lip service to our emigrants, they must feel supported. As emigration touches every Irish family, political will is now needed for results. The effects of post-war emigration are still with us. Over many years Irish emigrants have demonstrated their commitment to this country in the form of remittances, (estimated at 3.5 billion Irish Pounds during the 1950s and 1960s) and this income constituted a substantial part of our macroeconomic earnings in those leaner days." Bishop Hegarty continued: "The reporting of the Task Force on Emigration in mid-2002 offered hope to both emigrants and those working with Irish communities across the world. However the implementation of the report's recommendations has been slow. For example, the recent budgetary provision of one million Euros for emigrant services falls far short of the 18million Euros advised in the original Task Force recommendations. "The Irish Chaplaincy in Camden, north London, based in the Irish Centre, which is jointly operated by the IECE and Westminster Archdiocese, has lobbied for many years on behalf of the vulnerable and marginalised Irish in London and assists in providing accommodation, meal services and counselling to our clients. The findings of this Prime Time programme mirror our own research and experiences of the Irish in London and points to: alarming rates of mental illness; the highest mortality rates of all ethnic groups in the UK; an above average suicide rate compared to other ethnic minorities; and high levels of alcohol abuse. "In summary, the services provided in London by the various voluntary agencies are effective but are greatly under resourced. The IECE is now calling on government : - To establish a Review Group, without delay, to oversee the implementation of the 19 recommendations of the Task Force; - To establish an Agency for the Irish Abroad - as recommended by the Task Force - in order to co-ordinate services at home and abroad for our Diaspora. It is of particular concern to the IECE that the Irish abroad, especially those who are marginalized and vulnerable, are central to future planning and policy; - This Agency ought to be the specific responsibility of a Minister of State with responsibility for the Irish abroad; - The eight million Euros recommended by the Task Force for Irish emigrant services in England should now be provided for and expedited to support service providers in Britain. - IECE supports Deputy Eoin Ryan's suggestion (The Irish Times 20/12/03) that the Custom House be used as a museum to honour the achievements of the Irish Diaspora, when the Department of the Environment is decentralised to Wexford. In these circumstances the Custom House should also be the home for the new Agency for the Irish Abroad." The Irish Episcopal Commission for Emigrants is an agency of the Irish Bishops' Conference, based in Maynooth, Co Kildare. Source: Irish Catholic Bishops Conference Media Office
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