The Irish Abroad Unit in the Department of Foreign Affairs manages and coordinates the programme.

This work is conducted in partnership with Ireland’s Embassies and Consulates and the huge number of Irish organisations abroad.

Since 2004, the Emigrant Support Programme (ESP) has assisted over 800 organisations, across 47 countries. Grants issued add up to €220 million in total.

Individual grants have ranged from small amounts for grass-roots groups to major allocations awarded to voluntary and community organisations operating on a large scale.

How does ESP work?

The ESP prioritises projects which are in line with the objectives of the Government’s Diaspora Strategy 2020-2025.

The funding year runs from 1 July each year until 30 June the following year. The application window for the Emigrant Support Programme runs from mid-January to mid-February each year.

Criteria for grant aid

Applicant organisations should be established as registered charities, charitable bodies or voluntary/not for profit organisations.

Evaluation is based on the following criteria:

  • the need for the project
  • beneficiaries in the Irish community (including second and later generations), their needs and vulnerabilities
  • the impact of the project, based on clear expected outputs and outcomes
  • partnerships with other statutory, voluntary and ESP-funded organisations to maximise service delivery to vulnerable Irish people
  • how the outcomes will contribute to the achievement of ESP’s objectives
  • the capacity of the organisation to deliver the project
  • the total project cost and value for money offered
  • what funding has been secured from other sources for the project
  • the monitoring and evaluation systems in place to measure the outcomes for target beneficiaries
  • commitment to good governance and best practice throughout the organisation.

Categories of funding

All funding decisions are based on the information submitted in the official application form. Application must be submitted online through our grant portal. No hard copy application forms will be accepted.

The categories under which ESP can be applied for are as follows;

  • Heritage - projects involving the promotion and maintenance of Irish heritage and identity overseas, such as Irish sports, Irish music, Irish dance and other arts.
  • Welfare (Elderly) - projects that are specifically targeted at the older members of the Irish community.
  • Welfare (Other) - projects involving the provision of front-line welfare services including advisory, counselling, information and outreach services to Irish communities.
  • Business networks - projects to support Irish business networks or other Irish professional networks overseas.
  • Capital - projects involving the construction, refurbishment or purchase of capital assets. This includes projects related to website development and large digital/software projects.

Organisations may make applications in more than one category.

>> Read frequently asked questions

Principles governing recipients of Irish Government funding

The ESP is funded through taxpayer’s money and is therefore public funding. The highest levels of transparency and accountability are applied. Reports on the impacts and the success of projects funded and financial reports are required as part of the ESP process.

In line with regulations governing the receipt of grants from the Irish Government, all grantees must strive for:


Set out clearly the objectives, inputs and outputs of their funding spend:

  • Show clearly that funding was spent only for the business purposes for which it was provided
  • Seek clarification from the grantor where necessary – on use of funds, governance and accountability arrangements.


Ensure appropriate governance arrangements are in place for oversight and administration of funding:

  • control and safeguarding of funds from misuse, misappropriation and fraud
  • accounting records which can provide, at any time, reliable financial information on the purpose, application and balance remaining of the public funding
  • accounting for the amount and source of the funding, its application and outputs/outcomes.

Value for money

Be in a position to provide evidence on:

  • effective use of funds
  • value achieved in the application of funds
  • avoidance of waste and extravagance.


Manage public funds with the highest degree of honesty and integrity:

  • Act in a manner which complies with relevant laws and obligations e.g. tax, minimum wages
  • Procure goods and services in a fair and transparent manner
  • Act fairly, responsibly and openly in dealings with the grantor.

Additional points to note

It is recognised that it may not be possible to immediately begin a project which has been approved for funding. However, it is expected that the project will have commenced within six months of receipt of the grant. Irish Government accounting practices require the money to be used for the approved purpose within the same funding year.

The funding year runs from 1 July each year until 30 June the following year.

  • Grant aid not used in accordance with the terms and conditions specified by the Irish Government must be repaid in full.
  • If a grant has been awarded towards funding for a staffing position and a vacancy arises in that position during the funding year, organisations should expect a clawback for the period the position was unfilled.
  • Contact your nearest Embassy or Consulate if you have questions about your project's eligibility for ESP funding.

We look forward to working with you to deliver tangible benefits for Irish communities, wherever in the world they may be.