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Diaspora to get 'recognition' system - but NOT honours system

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore announces new scheme at Global Irish Economic Forum as Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaks of “new age” lying ahead for Ireland.

Eamon Gilmore speaking at the Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin Castle this morning.
Eamon Gilmore speaking at the Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin Castle this morning.
Image: Niall

TÁNAISTE AND FOREIGN Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore has announced a new “recognition” awards system for members of the diaspora who are considered to have served Ireland or Irish communities abroad.

In his opening address to the Global Irish Economic Forum at Dublin Castle this morning, Gilmore applauded the “influence of the global Irish” which he said spread further in the world than any other small country. He described the Irish diaspora as hard-working and creative and that Ireland should take pride in their achievements. He said:

I am, therefore, pleased to announce that the Government will shortly introduce a new system of recognition for sustained and distinguished service to Ireland or Irish communities abroad by individual members of the diaspora.

He insisted that the system would NOT be an honours system but “rather will involve the formal recognition every year of individuals from a range of sectors at a ceremony in Ireland”.

The Tánaiste said that more detailed proposals would be brought before the Government shortly. The Irish Constitution does not support an honours system or nobility classification such as that conferred by the English monarchy.

The Government awarded its first Certificate of Irish Heritage two weeks ago to Bridget Hunter, the mother of a New York firefighter who died on 9/11. Joseph Hunter died while attending the site of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center in 2001. People have been able to apply for the certificates since last Friday – but unlike that honorary first one, they will have to pay €40 plus delivery costs for them.

He also announced that an online network for Irish people “and those who think Irish”, WorldIrish.com, was being launched at the forum by John McColgan.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s opening speech recalled that in the same hall where the main forum was taking place, the Government and the President had welcomed Queen Elizabeth II last May – “a sight, an even, we thought we might never see”.

He said that he felt that the event was part of Ireland’s bid to get its “message of regeneration and resurgence” out to the rest of the world. He paid tribute to the late co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, who died on Wednesday night at his Californian home, saying that his example of creativity and leadership set the bar for the next generation.

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It is that same spirit, that same creativity, that same love of Ireland, belief in Ireland, that brings us here to Dublin Castle today.

Clearly intent on reminding us of the State visits earlier this year, the Taoiseach referred to US President Barack Obama’s words of encouragement to Ireland on the steps of College Green, saying that our best days are ahead of us. As with Eamon Gilmore in a later response to Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams at the forum, he focused on some positives in the Irish economic situation in recent months, including:

  • the spread between Irish and German bond yields halving since July
  • the Central Bank revising its upward growth forecast for this year
  • a slight decrease in Live Register figures for last month.

He said: “My vision is to make Ireland the best small country in the world in which to do business by 2016.”

Watch the Global Irish Economic Forum main stage LIVE here>

Taoiseach opens Global Irish Economic Forum>

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