COMMUNITY groups across Britain have sent messages of thanks to Ruaidhri Dowling of the Irish Embassy in London as he prepares to take on the role of Irish Ambassador to Croatia this month.
As First Secretary of Community and Cultural Affairs, Mr Dowling has been closely connected with Irish community groups and organisations across the country.
His London posting has also seen him assist those groups through uncertain times – including the Brexit negotiations and the Covid-19 crisis.
Some of the many people he has assisted during his time in Britain have paid tribute to him this week, while wishing him every success in his new posting,
The Birmingham Irish Association said: “As an organisation, we would like to extend infinite thanks and well wishes to Ruaidhri Dowling, First Secretary of Community and Cultural Affairs at the Irish Embassy in London.
“From presidential visits to passport applications, Ruaidhri has been with us from the very beginning and provided us with unlimited and incredible support in every aspect of our organisation.”
They added: “We have and always will consider him to be a dear friend here of staff, clients and the Irish community in the city.
“We wish you every happiness Ruaidhri, for the future and in this next exciting chapter of your career.”
The Cara Irish Communities organisation - a network of organisations based in the north west of England, also sent a message of support.
“We send our congratulations to Ruaidhri on his exciting new posting as Ireland's Ambassador to Croatia,” they said.
“Thank you for all your support throughout the years and we wish you every happiness and success for the future,” they added.
Nora Mulready, of the Irish Elderly Advice Network, thanked Mr Dowling for his constant commitment to the community.
"We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to Mr Dowling for the help and support he has given to the older Irish community in London in his time as the First Secretary and to wish him all the very best in his new role as the Irish Ambassador to Croatia," she said.
"His impact on the community has been a wholly, and powerfully, positive one," she added.
"When help or advice has been needed, he has been on hand to provide it.
"His service at the Irish Embassy in London has not coincided with a simple or straightforward time, dealing both with Brexit and then with the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Yet, alongside Ambassador O’Neill, he has provided the older Irish community with confident, thorough and thoughtful advice in these times of great difficulty, challenge and even grief for the Irish community, including following the death our former Chair, Alice Kennedy.
"His support for the older Irish, as this part of the diaspora became so vulnerable during the pandemic, will not be forgotten, particularly by those of us who saw up close the help that the Irish Embassy gave during this time."
She concluded: "We are sorry to see him go, but nevertheless raise a parting glass to Mr Dowling, say thank you once again, and wish him all the very best."
Regarding the move, Mr Dowling said: “As I come to the end of my time here in Britain what I will miss the most are the great friends I have met in the community here during my stay.”
He added: “I’ve had the privilege of visiting Irish groups and organisations the length and breadth of the country and seeing how they are supporting their communities, helping those in need, and passing on their Irish heritage to the next generation.”