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Background to Irish Network-DC and Irish Network-USA


History of the Irish Networks in America:

In September 2009, in response to the economic pressures facing Ireland at the time, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, at the direction of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, convened a global economic conference at Farmleigh House in Dublin. The goal was to reinforce economic ties with the USA, but also to address other links that could be strengthened.

Irish Network USA was conceptualized at that meeting as a mechanism to grow the economic, cultural and social ties between the USA and Ireland for mutual benefit. Delegates saw this relationship as a key piece in Ireland’s recovery, and discussed the need for an Irish organization playing a separate role to the programs/groups already established in the USA (many of which had been funded by the Irish Government’s Emigrant Support Programme).

From the outset, it was envisioned that the Irish Network, and the individual chapters, would be established and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs, with the Ambassador and Consul Generals also playing a key role. While important, this support was also designed to allow the Networks to function in an autonomous manner.

Following on from this strategic review of the relationship between the US and Ireland, the Irish Embassy in Washington DC and Irish Consulates throughout the US have promoted and assisted in the establishment of Irish Networks across the USA.

History of IN-DC:

IN-DC was founded in January of 2010 at the suggestion of the Embassy of Ireland in Washington, DC. The Ambassador to the USA at the time, The Honorable Michael Collins, contacted a number of Irish and Irish Americans in Washington, DC who were already known to him for their participation in Irish-American activities.  The first Chair of IN-DC was William Galvin. The chapter was incorporated under the non-profit laws of the District of Columbia in June 2010.  The incorporators were William Galvin, John Shanahan and Isobel Murray.  From the beginning, the steering committee’s meetings were held at the Embassy of Ireland at the invitation of Ambassador Collins. This privilege has been extended to IN-DC since 2010. The relationship between the Embassy of Ireland and IN-DC is unique among other Irish organisations in the region.

In 2012 the Internal Revenue Service granted IN-DC 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. A key aspect of that designation is that the Network must retain its neutral stance on political issues. This is seen by many as a strength of the association.

Our Membership:

From its inception, the Network has been focused on strengthening the cultural, economic and social ties with Ireland.  Membership is diverse and open to all, including Irish-born individuals, friends of Ireland and Irish-Americans. Membership options have evolved since the Network began, and now includes subscribed membership ($50), a mailing list only option (free), student membership ($15) and a “Friend of IN-DC Membership” ($150). Subscribed membership remains IN-DC’s main form of financial support and while the board of IN-DC consciously organizes events and promotions for subscribed members, consistent with the initial intent to grow links with the diaspora, a subscribed membership is not required to engage with us and the Irish Community in Washington, DC.  IN-DC strives to create a strong, friendly and open connection to Ireland for all.

Our Leadership & Partners:

In recent years, IN-DC has formed both formal, and informal, connections with other Irish groups in the Washington, D.C. area. This again was a goal outlined in the initial Farmleigh documents. Among the groups that IN-DC has partnered with are; The Belfast Beltway Boxing Project, The Ireland Funds Young Leaders, The Northern Ireland Bureau, The Rose of Tralee Center, Solas Nua, The St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, The Washington, D.C. Gaels, and The Washington Ireland Program.

IN-DC exists under the banner of IN-USA, with 18 (and growing) sister networks across the USA, all of which have interactions with the DFA. In 2013 and 2014, Irish Network USA received a donation from the Emigrant Support Programme from the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ireland. Two representatives from the IN-DC board currently sit on the board of IN-USA. 

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