31st July, 2009

Supporters Luncheon

This year’s Australian Ireland Fund annual Sydney Supporters Luncheon was again kindly hosted by Mr. Steven Bosiljevac of PricewaterhouseCoopers at the PricewaterhouseCoopers Sydney Headquarters on Sussex Street.

The beautiful harbour views and gorgeous Sydney weather were a lovely back drop for the luncheon which was attended by 60 of the Fund’s generous supporters. In attendance was Consul General of Ireland, Pat Scullion and Irish Vice-Consul Siobhan Kelly.

Our Chairman Charles Curran AC also welcomed fellow Directors present at the luncheon, Jane Cosgrove, Frank Curran, Dr. Tom Moore, Ron Porter, Peter Ryan, Briege Tuite and Mary Waldron and Yvonne le Bas, fellow Director and Deputy Chairman of the Lansdowne Club and Governors, Frank Curran, Mary Lee, Ron Porter, Peter Ryan, and Briege Tuite.

Benefactors present were: Anita & Raymond Cowan, Teresa Keating, Yvonne le Bas, Tom Moore and Fiona Tuite.

The event was an opportunity for our Chairman Charles Curran AC to thank all our supporters, on behalf of the Australian Ireland Fund, for their hard work and continued support over the past 12 months and extend a very special thank you to Corporate Governors and major supporters present including Brendan Hopkins, APN, Richard Herring, APN Outdoor, Bob Longwell Australian Radio Network, Mike Lattin of GlobeCast Australia, Chris Knaap of Mercedes Benz and our most recent corporate Governor and major sponsor Lindsay White of Etihad Airways.

Chairman Charles Curran AC also thanked Australian Ireland Fund Executive Director, Teresa Keating, who makes such a wonderful contribution to the work of the Fund and does so with such charm, energy and commitment.

The Chairman told supporters that our objective has been to help build a new island of Ireland, for a new generation.  However, with considerable progress having been made in the peace initiative in Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, the Ireland Funds have now adopted a second objective;  to support community projects in those countries around the worked which have been hospital to the Irish.

Whilst progress has been made in bringing political peace to Ireland, with Unionists the Nationalists now sharing Government the Ireland Funds are seeking to bring reconciliation to the two communities by addressing the continuing prejudice and division in Northern Ireland, with a particular focus on Ireland’s young people.

The Chairman then told supporters of our second objective, namely supporting community projects in Australia.  A Committee of the Board has developed a strategy to implement this new initiative by identifying Australian projects which would be most suitable for the Fund to become associated with and to support.  The focus will be on projects involving reconciliation, so that the experience learned at such a high cost in Ireland can be applied in our local Australian environment. 

Our first projects will be in association with Australian Indigenous Education Foundation, headed up by Mr. Andrew Penfold, to provide quality education for disadvantaged indigenous young Australians.   The Australian Indigenous Education Foundation already provides an extensive program of scholarships for young indigenous Australians to be educated at a number of leading schools.  The Federal Government has recently announced funding support for that group in the amount of $20 million.  This will enable us to receive dollar for dollar supplementation for the funds that we contribute, thus effectively doubling the results from our contributions.

As our supporters will know, the Australian Ireland Fund had already provided funding for an Australian project, namely, the establishment of a Chair of Modern Irish Studies at the University of New South Wales.  This will form part of the John Hume Institute for Global Irish Studies which is being established by the university in conjunction with University College Dublin. The university has commenced the recruitment process for a Director and Chair and it plans to open the centre in 2010.

The luncheon also provided an opportunity to inform our supporters of our upcoming two events:  The Brisbane Gala Luncheon on 16 August 2009 and the Sydney Garden Party, our flagship event, which takes place on Sunday, 25th of October at the beautiful harbourside home of Lady Mary Fairfax AC OBE – the theme being “Beach Party”.