The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Emigrant Support Programme, ESP, provides funding to non-profit organisations and projects to support Irish communities overseas and to facilitate the development of more strategic links between Ireland and the global Irish. The emphasis of the Emigrant Support Programme is on supporting culturally sensitive, frontline welfare services, targeted at the most vulnerable members of our overseas communities, particularly in Britain and the United States. These services have made a substantive difference to the lives of these communities overseas through reducing homelessness, tackling social isolation, and enabling Irish emigrants to access their local statutory entitlements. In addition, the ESP has facilitated Government support for a range of community and heritage projects, strategic capital projects and other initiatives aimed at creating practical results-orientated links between Ireland and the global Irish, including those that emerged from the Global Irish Economic Forums. Details of all grant recipients since 2006 can be found on my Department’s website at http://www.dfa.ie/home/index.aspx?id=298. I am pleased that, despite the difficult financial situation we face, the Government has maintained the 2013 funding for the ESP at €11.59 million, the same level as 2012. The focus in 2013 will be on key frontline welfare and advisory services and on projects aimed at supporting new arrivals.
The 2013 grant round closed on 20 February. Applications for 360 projects from 16 countries are currently under review. I expect to be in a position to make announcements in the coming weeks.