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Written Answers. - Emigrant Aid.

Wednesday, 18 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 559 No. 6

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 115. Dr. Cowley Information on Jerry Cowley Zoom on Jerry Cowley  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen  the provisions which have been made for Irish emigrants, overseas, in the 2003 budget; the proportion of this money which is specific to older emigrants currently living abroad but wishing to return to their homeland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26859/02]

 116. Dr. Cowley Information on Jerry Cowley Zoom on Jerry Cowley  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen  the provisions which have been made to respond to the recommendations made by the task force on policy regarding emigrants in the recent budget; if he will make a statement on this and the commitment of Government to honour the debt owed to our older Irish emigrants; and if he will give a time frame in which the much needed assistance to this group will be given. [26860/02]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen I propose to take Questions Nos. 115 and 116 together.

The Government has demonstrated its commitment to protecting and supporting the Irish abroad by establishing the task force on policy regarding emigrants and I intend that the report should provide a template for our actions in the future. At the same time, the extent to which the Government can provide additional resources has to be considered in the context of the difficult budgetary situation at the present time. In the light of this, it is clear that the implementation of the recommendations of the task force on policy regarding emigrants will have to be carried out on a phased basis.

The recommendations of the task force are being examined by an interdepartmental working group which is expected to report in the coming month.

The existing provision of approximately €380,000 in the Vote for Foreign Affairs, which is used to support the work of Irish emigrant agencies in the United States and Australia, has been maintained for next year. Funding for services to emigrants, particularly in Britain, is also provided by the Departments of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and Social and Family Affairs. It is not possible to identify the proportion of this funding which is specifically devoted to older emigrants wishing to return to Ireland.

While it has not been possible to provide additional funding in 2003 to implement the report of the task force, I assure the Deputy that [1529]I remain committed to addressing the issues raised by the task force.


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