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Fri, Jun

Report From Recent Global Irish Civic Forum

Report from the Global Irish Civic Forum
By Kent Covey & Maureen Kennedy
 
The two-day symposium in Dublin Castle on May 4-5, 2017, attended by 235 of the hyphenated Irish from Abu Dabi & Australia to Switzerland & the USA, sought to and succeeded in, harvesting the advice and opinions  of the far-flung diaspora on matters of state as diverse and important as expanding the electorate in Presidential voting to providing tools for improved communications to / from the Irish Government and its citizens and advocates around the world.
 
Some eight plenary sessions / panel discussions, twelve workshops, eight networking opportunities and two breakout sessions comprised the agenda of the conference.
 
The importance of the matters discussed was underscored by the participation of three Ministers of State, (Flanagan of Foreign Affairs & Trade, McHugh of the Diaspora & International Development, and Coveney of Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government), several Senators and the entire Irish Abroad Unit of the department of Foreign Affairs including the Secretary General and Minister of the Department.
 
Attendees learned the roles and responsibilities of the various governmental personnel involved, provided them counsel and feedback on present and future plans in their areas of activity and met their counterparts from Europe, North America, Australia and the Middle East who are serving the Irish emigrants in similar ways to themselves.
 
Unlike the corpse at a wake who attends but isn’t expected to say much, those at this Forum had plenty of questions and comments, some spoken softly and others loudly, on every topic addressed.
 
It is clear that Irish citizens abroad will vote for their President in future elections. It is clear that the Ireland of tomorrow will look and feel quite different than that of today and will be more diverse and have to deal with a broader range of ethnicities, language and traditions.
 
There is no doubt either, of the large impact that the immigration centers, cultural centers and business and social networks out in the diaspora are having on welfare of Irish citizens abroad, including second, third and subsequent generations, nor that the government of the Republic is thankful for it and willing to support it financially and to provide better communications to it.
 
Specific contributions of these correspondents were comments at the diaspora review regarding notification of cultural events and tours of Irish artists, lack of interest of local enterprise boards toward small employers considering satellite operations in Eire and no response to nominations of persons for Distinguished Service nominations.
 
Additionally Ms. Kennedy, Co-Founder of the Irish Heritage Center of Cincinnati, served as panelist on the Culture and Heritage Workshop team moderated by the Director of Culture Ireland, Christine Sisk.
 
From here, surveys will be submitted by the participants to the government and collaboration with one another will follow as those amongst us with like entities and challenges will share best practices.
 
What a great two Days!!
Cincinnati Irish Heritage Center
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