Westmeath’s Diaspora Strategy 2017-2020 was officially launched by Cathaoirleach Cllr Frank McDermott in County Buildings last Thursday, May 29.
Commissioned by Westmeath County Council and produced by consultants Bane and Mullarkey, the strategy recognises the potential of the Westmeath Diaspora as an integral part of the community of the county. The new strategy forms a plan to engage with the diaspora community and to cultivate the sense of the Westmeath connection both for the benefit of the diaspora and the people living in Westmeath.
With the vision “A global Westmeath community connected by a mutual interest in the county”, the strategy was developed in accordance with the Local Diaspora Toolkit. This was developed by the Minister for Diaspora Affairs to guide local authorities wishing to increase engagement with their diaspora.
The overall objective is to engage and communicate with members of the Westmeath diaspora communities and to strengthen their feeling of connection with their home county.
The short-term focus aims to establish and nurture relationships within the diaspora communities and also within communities in Westmeath.
Growing tourism, encouraging returning emigrants, reaching out to the ‘undocumented’ from Westmeath, enriching educational opportunities and promoting inward investment are identified as longer-term goals.
In developing the Westmeath Diaspora Strategy, an online survey was completed by members of the Westmeath diaspora in the US, UK, Australia, Argentina, Canada and New Zealand, among others. Community workshops took place in Mullingar and Moate and interviews and meetings were held to gather views and suggestions from people in Westmeath.
Within Westmeath County Council the LEO (Local Enterprise Office ), the tourism officer, the heritage officer and the Community Development section will collaborate on implementing the strategy together with communities, clubs and societies in Westmeath and in the various diaspora communities worldwide.