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How Irish People Are Making an Impact Around the World

One of the things that really sparks our national pride is seeing how Irish people are making a difference all around the world.

This work takes diverse and innovative forms and has an impact on many levels. Irish people are working to help alleviate hunger and help with humanitarian crises in some of the world's poorest countries. Read on to find out how.

Coming from a tiny island, Irish people have had a huge impact when it comes to global issues. We respond with compassion and our people work at the frontline of humanitarian disasters. We are proud of and grateful to our defence troops, who serve as global peacekeepers for the UN.

We may be a small nation, but we are prepared to make a large contribution when needed. Here are some examples of how Irish people make a difference.

The Impact of Our Role in the UN

Our active participation in the UN enables us to have an impact globally. Our election to the Human Rights Council of the UN for the period 2013-2015 provided us with a prominent platform for human rights advocacy. We played a central role in the process to agree the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, which addressed the many causes of poverty, injustice, and damage to our planet.

We’re Peacekeepers and Peacemakers

Since 1958, our Defence Forces have had a continuous presence in peace support operations, mainly in the Middle East. Our defence personnel have served in countries all over the world, including Central America, Russia, the former Yugoslavia, Cambodia, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Namibia, Western Sahara, Liberia and East Timor.

In September 1993, the Irish Government restated the roles of the Defence Forces and defined one of them as being: "To participate in United Nations missions in the cause of international peace." The high standing of the Irish Defence Forces within UN Peacekeeping is reflected in the senior positions that have been held by Irish military personnel in the past.

Helping Others to Help Themselves

Many of our citizens are currently volunteering overseas to help those for whom poverty is a daily reality. Volunteering contributes in a very tangible way to a fairer and more equal world, and it helps to empower people in poor countries to build futures for themselves.

Visit Irish Aid to find out more about what volunteering involves and examine some case studies of the programmes that have been implemented.

Recognising our Citizens’ Achievements Abroad

The work done abroad on our behalf is recognised through The Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad. This award is presented every year to those who live outside Ireland. It recognises service given either to the country or to Irish communities abroad. Whether they’re Irish citizens, entitled to Irish citizenship, or from an Irish background - the hard work, energy and dedication of nominees are deserving of our thanks and respect.

The categories under which individuals can be nominated include arts, culture and sport, business and education, charitable works, Irish community support, peace, reconciliation and development, and science, technology and innovation. Check out the stories of some previous winners on YouTube.

Funding Projects That Support Global Irish Communities

The Emigrant Support Programme aims to fund projects that will have a clear impact on supporting and building global Irish communities. The Irish Abroad Unit in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade manages and coordinates the programme, in partnership with Ireland’s embassies and consulates abroad. Keep up to date with news of the global Irish community on Twitter.