Sinn Féin Senator and party Spokesperson on the Diaspora, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, today highlighted the need for the government to give the Irish Diaspora the representation they deserve.
Speaking at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis this evening Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:
“Molly O’Mara, an Irish Emigrant in Australia, said in an article as part of the Generation Emigration series in the Irish Times recently;
‘There’s a heap of things I miss from home, one of them is “loads”. My language over time has changed, I’ve started saying heaps instead of loads, calling a duvet a doona, and not using “the craic” enough.
This is just a small anecdote which highlights the subtle things that affect Irish people away from home.
Some estimate that the Irish diaspora may total as many as 70 million people.
The greatest verifiable number is to be found in North America, with some 35 million claiming a degree of Irish heritage in the United States and 4.5 million in Canada
There is an enormous Irish population in Britain. There are approximately 600,000 people born on the island of Ireland currently living in England, but the number of people with Irish heritage is many times that. It has been estimated that up to one-in-four people in Britain may have some Irish ancestry.
Over 2 million people in Australia said they were of Irish descent which equates to over 10% of the total population.
Other Irish communities are to be found all over the world, diverse in their size and composition, from some 7,000 first-generation Irish in the United Arab Emirates to more than 500,000 people of Irish descent in Argentina. There are small, but active and growing Irish communities all across Asia.
They are supported by a wonderful network of NGO’s, cultural, social and sporting organisations and embassy representatives.
Sinn Féin has a long and proud history of engagement with and representation of Irish people across the globe. That is highlighted here by the many International visitors we have again at this year’s Ard Fheis agus tá míle fáilte romhaibh anseo arís.
According to the Governments new Diaspora Strategy launched this week - The relationship between Ireland and its diaspora “must be built on trust, respect and reciprocity”
Well, Enda Kenny needs to to practise - ‘beart de réir a bhriathair’.
He needs to act to give the Irish Diaspora the representation they deserve in the Dáil & Seanad and to extend the franchise to vote in Irish elections to all our citizens overseas.
Don’t just talk about it Taoiseach, do it.
Is onóir mhór domsa a bheith ainmnithe mar Urlabhraí an Pháirtí don Diaspóra. As newly appointed party Spokesperson on the Diaspora I am looking forward to building on our strong foundation of working with the Irish across the world, a relationship which is the envy of all other Irish political parties.
We will be engaging in a meaningful way with Irish communities to put them at the top of the political agenda. We will be fighting with them for their rights and entitlements. We will be celebrating their successes and drawing on their wealth of knowledge and goodwill.
We will be working at home to ensure that returning is a viable option and that they are looked after properly while away.
We will be holding the government to account as well. Lipservice, staged events and glossy brochures can’t take away from the need to recognise the fundamental rights of every Irish citizen, no matter where in the world they live.
Beidh Sinn Féin i rialtas diongbháilte chun na cearta sin a chur ar fáil do shaoránaithe na hÉireann ar fad. Sé a gceart é, agus is é an rud ceart é.
Go raibh maith agaibh.”