17th August, 2014

Brisbane Gala Luncheon 2014

Brisbane Luncheon 17 August

We are delighted to announce that the Brisbane Gala Luncheon raised over $65,000, these funds will be used to continue the work of The Australian Ireland Fund in integrated education in the North of Ireland through Drumragh Integrated College and Forge Integrated Primary School, scholarships for indigenous Australians and also to fund our flagship projects in Southern Ireland this year, Barnardos Loughlinstown, Junior Achievement Ireland and Suas Literacy Programme.

The lunch took place on Sunday 17 August 2014 at Victoria Park, Herston. It was the first time The Ireland Funds held the lunch at the venue, guests enjoyed the beautiful marquee with stunning chandeliers that capitalised on the view of the Brisbane city skyline. We were lucky enough to have the weather clear for a beautiful sunny afternoon – perfect for guests to enjoy welcome drinks and canapés on the terrace. We were delighted to see so many of our Brisbane regulars and also some new faces.
MC for the day was Chris Handy, former Australian Rugby player affectionately known as ‘Buddha’, who outlined activities for the day and kept the crowd thoroughly entertained throughout the lunch.

Australian Ireland Fund Executive Director, Teresa Keating started the lunch by welcoming guests, many from Brisbane’s top corporate institutions. Special guests on the day included Ambassador of Ireland to Australia Noel White, Australian Ireland Fund Directors Dr Tom Moore, Professor Iain Watson and Peter Ryan. As well as former Board Member Sallyanne Atkinson AO. The Australian Ireland Fund’s Young Leaders were also represented by Adrian Hanley, Chair of the Melbourne Young Leaders Committee and Melissa Fisher from Sydney.

Teresa Keating provided a progress update on the current economic state of Ireland since the last gathering the previous year. She acknowledged Ireland’s progress to economic recovery and renewed hope, stamina and determination. Also noted was the community divide among the sectarian enclaves of Belfast, Derry and Omagh due to cutbacks in social support and economic stagnation. Teresa presented the challenge of turning peace into economic dividend for those in the margins. Teresa provided an inspiring update on the progress if the Promising Ireland fundraising Campaign which had recently doubled its target of raising $100 million in a four year time frame to $200 million within a five year period. It is a campaign that has assisted 650 charities in Ireland allowing the Ireland Fund to live up to its mission statement of “the global Irish making a difference together.’ The Australian Ireland Fund’s contribution to the goal has been $1 million dollars.

The Executive Director also indicated there is much work to be done and encouraged those present to help us to spread the word about our work and let us know of any contacts guests feel would like to know about us. Teresa thanked major sponsors in particular; Qantas’s Heather Ford who represented Qantas on the day.  Australian Radio Network and Ciaran Davis, Charles Curran AC and Capital Investment Group, Liam Maher from APN and Christiaan Knaap of Porsche and Citroen.

Ambassador White spoke of the important role played by the global Irish community, the diaspora, in staying engaged with Ireland and supporting it over the years.    He emphasised the importance the Government attaches to the diaspora and he outlined policies being developed to assist and remain connected with Irish communities abroad.
He recalled the role played by the Irish community and the contribution it has made in Australia – a role which will be highlighted in the centenary commemorations of the First World War – while remaining deeply attached to and supportive of Ireland.
The Ireland Funds, he added, have been a consistent contributor towards a lasting peace and reconciliation throughout the island of Ireland reflecting and maintaining a tradition of support that has been readily forthcoming from Ireland’s diaspora.  He thanked The Australian Ireland Fund for the part it has played and continues to play as part of the wider family of Ireland Funds.

He emphasised the importance of the work of The Australian Ireland Fund in helping to embed peace and reconciliation through support for sustainable community relations based on respect and tolerance.
Situating the work of the AIF in the broader context of the relations between Ireland and Australia, the Ambassador underlined its importance as an articulation of the deep ties between the two countries.
Finally a student from Marist College Ashgrove, Emilio Ornyengaia spoke eloquently about how he personally benefits from the quality education he receives at Marist College; he thanked his Principal Peter McLoughlin, the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation and The Australian Ireland Fund.

Guests were entertained by Claddagh, made up of Mark Butler on guitar and vocals and Mary McEvilly on fiddle and vocals, who charmed the crowd with their versatile repertoire.

The Live auction was conducted by Bruce Smith from Ray White Real Estate, who expertly whipped the crowd into a great state of excitement, thanks to all our donors and of course our guests who bid on different items.

Thank you to our table captains and sponsors, quite simply our work would not be possible without your help.