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MoS Ciarán Cannon, TD, Remarks at Reception at EPIC Centre

Colleagues

I would like to welcome you here to EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum. I think we can all agree that this museum is a fantastic resource and worthy of the huge weight of history that is the Irish emigrant experience.

This is a museum that quite literally tells a million tales and does so in a way that blends the very latest in research and genealogy with hands on exhibits that show the best of Irish design and craft. I am hugely glad that we as a Department will be partnering with EPIC in the year ahead and I am really delighted to announce that, this year we will be funding a full time historical researcher in residence position.

I have no doubt but that this partnership and new funded position will be beneficial to the ever increasing numbers of people discovering and learning more about Ireland’s emigrant experience and how it has shaped us as a nation.

This experience was clearly on show today during our discussions on refreshing and retuning for an evolving diaspora.

The collective breadth of experience that you bring is unparalleled and I would like to thank you for your considered input. I think that the discussions today helped harness your collective experience into concrete proposals that we as a Department can take forward.

I also spoke today at the conference about how the values at the heart of Ireland’s development policy are deeply rooted in our country’s history of famine and migration. The determination to respond in a spirit of solidarity and respect to people who are can’t break out of the depths of poverty, draws on the historical, political and social experience of Ireland, and how we ourselves understand the challenges of poverty, conflict, injustice, and migration.

These same political and social experiences are on show here in EPIC and in many respects the historical story of Irish emigration is also a story about the challenges of poverty, conflict, injustice, and migration.

While we as a people have thankfully moved beyond these issues, I believe that we must not forget our past and must seek to not see it repeated in the lives of our fellow citizens of the world. This too was showcased today in our discussions around Africa, development and diaspora - and I see huge potential for Ireland to lead in this area and to be an example for many peoples.

My role as Minister for the Diaspora is to be a voice for the Diaspora in Government and I’m all too aware that this role is made much easier by our Mission network, headed by you.

I would like to thank you for the invaluable role you play. Without your leadership Ireland would be in a much weaker place and I know too that the average Irish person abroad would be much worse off.

I would like to thank you for your input and I hope the rest of your time in Ireland is a fruitful as I feel our discussions were today.
ENDS

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