Thursday, 29 January 2004

Questions (101)

Dan Boyle


98 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the support services provided by his Department for Irish emigrants abroad. [2618/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

The Government has been providing assistance to Irish emigrants in Britain, the United States and Australia for many years.

In response to concerns about the situation of Irish emigrants in Britain, the Government established the Díon committee in 1984. The Díon fund, which is administered by the embassy in London through the Díon committee, has increased substantially in the past four years — from €592,300 in 1999 to €3,570,000 this year.

My Department also gives grants to voluntary organisations in the US that provide advocacy and support to Irish immigrants. Priority is given to the provision of information, advice and outreach services for Irish immigrants. This year, my Department will provide a total of €400,000, an increase of 33% over 2003. Increased grants will also be given to Irish welfare groups in Australia.

I was pleased to announce before Christmas that I secured an additional provision of €1 million in the Estimates for my Department for services to emigrants in 2004. This brings the overall expenditure on emigrant services this year to just over €4 million, an increase of one-third on 2003. I intend that the additional funds will be concentrated on improving services for the more vulnerable among our emigrants, particularly in Britain, who require special assistance and support.