New diaspora strategy challenges traditional Irish abroad image

New Diaspora Strategy Challenges Traditional Irish Abroad Image
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Neil Michael

American Irish dancing viral sensation Morgan Bullock looks set to be one of the faces of a push by the Department of Foreign Affairs for a more inclusive diaspora.

And Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has again stated the Government’s commitment to hold a referendum on whether or not to extend the right to vote in presidential elections to Irish citizens abroad.


Its new five-year diaspora strategy sets out a series of aims, including the desire to celebrate our “increasingly multicultural” diaspora.

This will include far more support and recognition for the LGBTQI diaspora, Irish of mixed heritage, and women.

There will also be a move to embrace what is being called the “affinity diaspora” — people who hold “a deep appreciation for our people, places, and culture”.


Morgan, who became an instant social media sensation in May when she posted a video of her Irish dancing on social media platform TikTok, is seen as the classic example of the sort of person this new strategy is designed to embrace and appeal to.

Her short video led to her being tweeted messages of support by, among thousands of other Irish people, Leo Varadkar and Riverdance creator Bill Whelan.

The embassy in Washington is in talks with the 20-year-old from Richmond, Virginia, about a number of initiatives, including taking part in a St Patrick’s Day Parade event.

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told the Irish Examiner: “Morgan was one of 40 artists to contribute to 'Shades of Green', an online series the Embassy in Washington ran throughout the summer.


“She has already accepted an invitation by Ambassador Daniel Mulhall to contribute to our St Patrick’s Day celebrations next year.

A gifted artist and deeply intelligent and articulate young woman, she is herself an outstanding ambassador for Irish dance and culture.

“We hope to continue to work with her in the years ahead, as we seek to implement this strategy.”

As well as promoting Irish culture, the strategy also plans to maintain its commitment to funding welfare supports under its Emigrant Support Programme (ESP).

On Tuesday, the department announced details of almost £5.4m (€6m) in funding for the Irish community in Britain.

In 2020, grants have been made to 105 organisations in Britain in support of a range of projects through the ESP.

Mr Coveney said: “The commitment by the Government to holding a referendum to extending voting rights in presidential elections to our citizens outside the State provides a real opportunity to engage all citizens around the world in our democracy.

“It underlines the importance attached by the Government to making the presidency an office which truly represents all the citizens of Ireland.”

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