On Tuesday 11 June, EPIC hosted a group of almost 30 Permanent Representatives of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to the United Nations (UN).
The countries represented included island nations from the Indian, Atlantic, Caribbean and Pacific Oceans – many of which, like Ireland, have significant global diasporas. Following a tour of EPIC, the guests were invited to participate in a panel discussion on diaspora engagement moderated by the Director General of Global Ireland in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, John Concannon, and including Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, and the GAA’s Director of Communications, Alan Milton.
Ambassador Byrne Nason, said of the event:
“Ireland enjoys a strong historical and cultural affinity with island nations around the world, and this was highlighted by the tour and subsequent panel discussion event at EPIC. As the permanent display shows, a significant number of Irish individuals and families were exiled to Caribbean in the seventeenth century, while in the nineteenth century, Irish missionaries provided vital education in island nations in the Pacific and elsewhere. Indeed, many of the Permanent Representatives of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to the UN who participated in this event were educated by Irish missionaries – an area that is considered in the temporary exhibition on Irish Educators Abroad. The museum also showcases Irish citizens who have made an outstanding contribution to the international community: for example Mary Robinson, whose work as UN Special Envoy on Climate Change has particular resonance in island nations.
Like Ireland, many SIDS have large overseas diasporas; the panel discussion therefore provided an invaluable opportunity to share ideas and experience on how to engage and collaborate with our communities overseas.
As they left several of the visiting Pacific and Caribbean Ambassadors said that they were happy that “chances are we are one of you: we are all Irish”.