Labour MEP for Ireland South Phil Prendergast has welcomed the creation of the ‘Ireland Reaching Out’ initiative and has called on communities around the country to seize the chance to help the Irish diaspora reconnect with its roots.
Ireland Reaching Out is a volunteer-run, non-profit programme which helps ex-pats reconnect with their parishes and vice versa. It is intended to avail of the economic, social and cultural benefit of Irish people both at home and abroad creating a virtual Irish community across the globe.
“The ‘Ireland Reaching Out’ project offers a wonderful opportunity to Irish communities to get in touch with members who have left. There isn’t a community in the land that hasn’t been affected by emigration recently and back through the years,” said Ms Prendergast.
“Emigration has been a feature of Irish life for many generations, the result of which is that the Irish diaspora is thought to exceed 70 million. Helping the diaspora establish a greater sense of their Irish heritage will enrich our culture and make Ireland a stronger country internationally.
“It will help build links of friendship for individuals, community groups, and sporting and cultural organisations. It will also be of economic benefit driving tourism and attracting investment.”
The programme has been running in Galway for over a year but this week received the support of Taoiseach Enda Kenny who launched it as a national initiative.
Under the scheme, parishes research their records, identify descendants who left the area and invite them to join the Irish diaspora community.
“This initiative builds on the recently launched Certificate of Irish Heritage which allows people who can prove Irish ancestry get a framed certificate recognised by the Irish State,” the Munster MEP added.
Ireland Reaching Out website: http://www.heritagecertificate.ie/
Irish Heritage Certificate website: http://www.heritagecertificate.ie/