TÁNAISTE Micheál Martin has paid tribute to the many organisations that have supported some of the most vulnerable members of the Irish community in London over many decades.
While in London over the weekend, ahead of his attendance at the British Irish Association conference in Oxford, Mr Martin, who is Ireland's Defence Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, paid a visit to the London Irish Centre (LIC) in Camden.
There he met with LIC staff and members of various Irish organisations operating in the capital.
“The tireless work that the staff of the London Irish Centre do - alongside the different Irish community organisations - with some of our most vulnerable in London, and the resilience they've shown in facing successive crises, is worthy of special acknowledgement,” he said.
“History will reflect that, at a time when those most in need in our diaspora communities sought help, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the extended Irish community in London who answered this call. We owe them a great debt of gratitude.”
The LIC opened in 1955 to serve the needs of Irish emigrants living in and around the Camden area.
In the decades that have since passed, the centre has grown significantly and now provides a wide range of personal and community services for Irish people based across the city and beyond.
Many of these services are supported by funding from the Irish Government’s Emigrant Support Programme (ESP).
The Tánaiste last visited the centre in 200i8, when he re-opened a newly refurbished Day Centre at the venue.
“Since it opened almost seventy years ago, the London Irish Centre has been at the heart of the Irish community in London,” he said during his visit on Friday, September 1.
“It has seen many changes over the decades, as the Irish community has evolved and matured, but the centre itself has remained a constant in the lives of countless Irish emigrants to London.”
He added: “I last visited the centre in 2008 when I had the honour of officially opening the newly-refurbished Day Centre.
“It is a real privilege to return and see that the vibrancy and commitment that was in evidence then has in no way dimmed over the years.”
Since it was founded in 2004, Irish organisations in Britain have received over €131 million in ESP funding.