By IIIC Executive Director, Sister Lena Deevy, LSA

On a wet and rainy Friday, IIIC Director of Intern Placements Megan Carroll and I traveled to New York to meet with the Irish Tanaiste and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, at the Irish Consulate. The meeting was convened by the CIIC Board President, Siobhan Dennehy, Executive Director of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center NY, and Katie Fox, CIIC’s national coordinator.

The event brought dozens of representatives of organizations serving Irish immigrants all across America. Among the members who participated were Celine Kennelly, Executive Director of the Irish Immigration Pastoral Center and Vice President of the CIIC Board; Orla Kelleher, Executive Director of the Aisling Irish Community Center and Treasurer of the CIIC Board; Breandan Magee, Executive Director of the Chicago Irish Immigrant Center and Secretary of the CIIC Board; Paul Finnegan, Executive Director, NY Irish Center; Sister Christine, Aisling Irish Center; and Alicia Connors, Executive Director of the Irish Pastoral Center.

The Coalition expressed its gratitude to the Tanaiste for financially supporting work with Irish immigrants, especially those with legal difficulties or unemployment, who are in need of counseling, healthcare advice, and social services. The Irish government grants are crucial to enabling centers to assist the most vulnerable Irish immigrants, and to assist the elderly Irish population.

The agenda of the meeting included the Senior Helpline, the need for more support for J1 summer students, the difficulties facing immigrants due to the difficult economy in the US, the difficulties facing the undocumented population, and the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

The Tanaiste thanked the gathered members of the CIIC and acknowledge the challenges facing the undocumented Irish population and the needs of Irish students here with the J1 Visa program.

The day ended with a reception for all organizations at the Irish Consulate offices. This was a great opportunity to re-connect with friends and allies from far and wide.