THE IRISH GOVERNMENT has paid €86 million to support the Irish community in the UK over the past 10 years according to Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore.
The Department of Foreign Affairs says that last year about 80 per cent of the grants paid in Britain were made to organisations and services for the Irish community.
The figures were released after a Dáil question from Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin who wanted to know what the Irish State has done to “assist Irish emigrants in the UK who have fallen on hard times”.
An Tánaiste said that the most vulnerable overseas Irish communities are helped by the Emigrant Support Programme which provides funds for welfare and cultural services for Irish citizens abroad. Britain, according to Gilmore, is the primary focus of their work:
Since 2003, the Emigrant Support Programme has provided more than €114 million in grants to Irish community and voluntary organisations, of which €86 million has been provided to more than 200 organisations in Britain. This funding has been directed primarily at frontline welfare services, working to support those made vulnerable by health, age or dislocation.
“A substantial portion of ESP funding in Britain is provided to a number of organisations primarily focussed on helping those who have fallen on hard times by tackling the problems of homelessness and addiction,” Gilmore added.
Last year the suicide prevention and bereavement service Console was established in the the UK with An Tánaiste explaining that some of their start-up costs were funded by the Emigrant Support Programme.