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Written Answers. - Emigrant Services.

Wednesday, 27 March 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 551 No. 3

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 76. Mr. Bell Information on Michael Bell Zoom on Michael Bell  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen  the progress to date in the work of the task force on policy regarding emigrants; when he expects to receive the report of the task force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10272/02]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen The task force on policy regarding emigrants established in December 2001, has been asked to recommend a coherent long-term policy approach to meeting the needs of emigrants, focusing especially on the needs of the young and vulnerable in the three areas of pre-departure services, services for emigrants overseas and services to returning emigrants.

In its discussions to date, the approach of the task force has been to deal separately with each of these three areas. The task force held its first meeting on 12 December 2001 and has held four meetings since then. The discussion on pre-departure services was based on presentations made by Mr. Aidan Punch, senior statistician in the Central Statistics Office, and Ms Anne O'Donovan, Co-ordinator of Emigrant Advice, a voluntary body that provides an information service for intending emigrants. On foot of the presentation from the CSO, the task force decided to commission a research study in order to review existing statistical data in Ireland and other countries, to identify more clearly the nature and the extent of Irish emigration and the problems faced by Irish emigrants abroad, and to highlight further statistical research that should be conducted in the future. The results of this study will be available by the middle of May, in time to feed into the drafting of the task force's report. The discussion on services for returning emigrants has been based on presentations by Dr. Gerry [806] Cowley, chairman of the safe home programme in Mulranny, County Mayo, and Dr. Nessa Winston, a lecturer in the Department of Social Policy in UCD, who has been conducting research into the area of returning emigrants.

The task force has attached considerable importance to consulting with organisations and individuals involved in the field of emigration to ensure that anyone who wishes to contribute to its work is able to do so. A notice was placed in the national papers – and in the Irish papers in the UK, US and Australia – inviting submissions from the public. Approximately 80 responses have been received so far. A further 37 reports have been received from Irish Missions abroad detailing the number and situation of Irish emigrants in their countries of accreditation. The task force has also invited a number of experts in this area to make presentations at its meetings. Members of the task force visited the US in February to meet with Irish Consular officials and voluntary organisations providing services to emigrants in that country. They are currently in Australia for the same purpose. Members also plan to visit the UK early in April.

Consideration of the issue of services to emigrants abroad will take place when the visits of the task force abroad have been completed. My understanding is that it is the intention of the task force to start drafting its report in May with a view to presenting it by the end of June.

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