Tánaiste announces the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad17 March 2012
Speaking at the opening of the new Irish Canadian Immigration Centre in Toronto, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, T.D., announced the Government’s decision to establish the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad.
This new Award will provide formal recognition by the State to people living abroad who have given sustained and distinguished service to Ireland.
Following on from the commitment made by him at the Global Irish Economic Forum last October, the Tánaiste said:
“The Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad will acknowledge the many ways in which our Diaspora make contributions to Ireland. Some engage with Ireland and our overseas communities to stay connected with their roots, others do so to be part of our heritage and our culture. Regardless of the reason, their contribution is deeply appreciated. This annual conferring by the President will be a fitting acknowledgement of that.”
The Award will be presented by the President at an annual ceremony to no more than 10 people. At least one individual will be chosen from the following sectors: Irish community support; the arts, culture and sport; charitable works; business and education; peace, reconciliation and development work.
The Tánaiste also indicated that the Government will consider proposals for a similar mechanism for recognising the distinguished service of those resident within Ireland.
Addressing recently arrived Irish emigrants at the new Immigration Centre in Toronto, the Tánaiste also emphasised his determination to help newly arrived emigrants abroad and announced the award of a further grant of CAN$80,000 for the new centre under the Emigrant Support Programme. During his visit the Tánaiste also discussed the needs of recently arrived Irish emigrants with the Canadian Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multi-culturalism, Mr Jason Kenney.
Emphasising his commitment to supporting all those around the world who have left Ireland in recent years, the Tánaiste said:
“The Government has a twin-track strategy for addressing the challenges presented by the current wave of emigration:
First, our economic recovery is based around achieving growth and job creation. I want emigration to become a matter of choice and not necessity. Our key goal is to create the right conditions in Ireland so that our people do not have to emigrate and that those that have done so can return to avail of real and sustainable employment opportunities.
Second, I will continue to ensure that those that do emigrate are not forgotten. Specifically, the Emigration Support Programme administered by my Department will be used to provide support services to recently arrived emigrants in the US, Britain, Australia, Canada and elsewhere. The new Centre in Toronto is a clear example of this support. The ESP will also continue to support long standing emigrant communities, particularly the most vulnerable, and to build new strategy links with leading business figures within our Diaspora through the Global Irish Network. Despite the financial challenges we face, I am pleased that the ESP has been maintained at the significant level of €11.5million in 2012 bringing total funding for the Irish abroad since 2004 to some €100million.
I will also ensure that our Embassies and Consulates continue to prioritise the provision of emergency consular assistance for our citizens abroad, including recently arrived emigrants. In 2011 alone, my Department provided direct assistance to some 1,500 citizens caught in difficult and urgent consular situations across the globe.”