The Government has once more shown its lack of priority for Irish citizens abroad with cuts to the diaspora budget for 2018, says Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh
Senator Ó Clochartaigh is calling on Minister of State Ciarán Cannon to explain why almost €4m has been cut from the budgets available which is “to serve our people at home and abroad and to promote reconciliation and co-operation”.
“Our Government ministers head off every St Patrick’s Day across the globe and wax lyrical about the importance of our diaspora. They rightly applaud the sterling work being done by organisations across the globe to support Irish citizens abroad. But come budget time they cut their budgets. That is the hypocrisy of this Government.
“This year’s budget for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade sees a cut of €1.747m in current funding and €3.943m from the capital budget for the strand which funds over 200 support organisations supporting the diaspora.
“At a conference organised in Galway last weekend by Ciaran Staunton of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and Karen McHugh of Safe Home Ireland concerns were raised at the huge difficulties being faced by Irish citizens who wish to return home. Minister Cannon acknowledged these and said he was committed to addressing them. A lot of this will need extra support not budgetary cuts.
“I am asking the Government to clarify where the cuts are intended, which programmes would be affected, what is the reasoning for this budgetary approach and why they have taken such a retrograde decision. We want the the Government to reverse these cuts and indeed increase supports for those organisations supporting Irish citizens abroad. Anything less is an insult to the huge contribution they make at home and abroad.”