Bishop Hegarty welcomes increased funding for the Irish abroad

15 Jul 2005


15 JULY 2005



Fr Nigel Charles is new appointment to the Irish Chaplaincy in Britain

Bishop Séamus Hegarty, Chairman of the Irish Episcopal Commission for
Emigrants has today welcomed the announcement by the Minister for
Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern TD, regarding the increase in funding
for 102 organisations involved in the provision of support and advisory
services which benefit Irish people in Britain.

Bishop Hegarty said, “While Government financial support is vital, it was
the setting up of the ‘Unit for the Irish Abroad’ in September 2004,
based in the Department of Foreign Affairs, that has truly underpinned
the dedicated policy commitment to the Irish abroad which was lacking

“The Bishops’ Commission for Emigrants sought the establishment of an
appropriate body, such as this Unit, to implement the findings of the
Task Force Report and I have been impressed to date with the commitment,
dedication and personable approach of the staff of the Unit, which is
headed by Mr Sean Farrell.”

“The Minister’s announcement of grants totalling €6.6m in the UK will
allow us to further develop specific outreach to the more marginalised
of our emigrants. It is incumbent on everyone involved in the care of
the Irish Abroad to demonstrate the benefits that these extra resources
have on those people most in need, and to be able do so in a measurable

“I am delighted to announce that our Commission is appointing a priest
from the diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Fr Nigel Charles, to the
Irish Chaplaincy in Britain. Fr Nigel’s mandate is to work with the
elderly Irish, especially those who are isolated. Fr Nigel is an excellent
priest and his experience includes work in Africa establishing development
programmes for those in great need. We sincerely thank Bishop Colm O’Reilly
for releasing Fr Nigel to undertake this valuable work. Along with the team
in the Irish Chaplaincy, and the funds raised by the Bishops’ “Supporting
Irish Abroad” campaign, we hope to increase the service provision to those
most in need in Britain.”

Bishop Hegarty concluded, “May I take this opportunity to extend our
sympathies and support to peoples of all faiths who have suffered so
tragically following the events of last week in London. The Secretary of
our Commission, Fr Alan Hilliard, attended the Irish Embassy in London
yesterday for the two minutes silence. This simple act of solidarity was
deeply appreciated by the many Londoners who gathered from the surrounding
offices and building sites. We offer our heartfelt prayers and sympathies
to the victims, their families, the emergency services and all involved
in providing for those affected by this tragedy.”

For further information please contact:
Director of Communications Martin Long 086 1727 678
Communications Officer Brenda Drumm 087 233 7797
Director of the Commission for Emigrants Fr Alan Hilliard 087 747 7110


* The Irish Bishops’ Conferences services for emigrants and prisoners
overseas – established in 1957 – is based in Maynooth and has permanent
outreach bases (Chaplaincies) in the UK, USA (New York; Boston; Chicago;
San Francisco; Philadelphia), Australia and Germany.

* In February 2004 at the Irish Centre in Camden Town, Bishop Séamus
Hegarty, Chairman of the IECE, launched the “Supporting Irish Abroad”
(SIA) awareness campaign. Its focus was on the Irish living in Britain,
especially in London, but who emigrated in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s and
are now at the greatest risk in terms of their physical and mental health.
You can support the SIA campaign by contacting us at: [email protected]

* The acronym SIA is also an Irish word meaning ‘longer’ or ‘farther’.
The emigrant is one who often feels cut of from the familiar surroundings
of home. Indeed a major part of our Biblical history focuses on God’s
people exiled from their home land. ‘How can we sing a song to the
Lord in a foreign land’ Ps 137:4.

* Recommendation 7.7 (p61) of the 2002 Report of the Task Force on Policy
Regarding Emigrants, states that an: Agency for the Irish Abroad be
established under the aegis of the Department of Foreign Affairs to
coordinate the provision of services to the Irish Abroad.

* Article 2 of the 1937 Constitution of Ireland, as amended by Referendum
held following the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, provides that: “It is
the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland,
which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish nation. That
is also the entitlement of all persons otherwise qualified in accordance
with law to be citizens of Ireland. Furthermore, the Irish nation cherishes
its special affinity with Irish people of Irish ancestry living abroad who
share its cultural identity and heritage.”