28th July, 2010

Supporters Luncheon

This year’s Australian Ireland Fund annual Sydney Supporters Luncheon was again kindly hosted by Mr. David Wiadrowski of PricewaterhouseCoopers. The impressive and welcoming Sydney Room at the PricewaterhouseCoopers Sydney Headquarters on Sussex Street was a lovely venue for the luncheon which was attended by 50 of the Fund’s generous supporters.

Chairman Charles Curran AC welcomed and acknowledge Corporate governors and major supporters present including Richard Herring of APN Outdoor, Ciaran Davis of Australian Radio Network, Chris Knaap of Mercedes Benz and the Fund’s most recent corporate Governor and major sponsor Lindsay White of Etihad Airways.

Fellow Governors Tony Harrington, Mary Lee, Peter Ryan and Briege Tuite attended. The Australian Ireland Fund Directors were also present at the luncheon included Chairman Charles Curran AC, Jane Cosgrove, Tony Harrington, Ted Johnson, Teresa Keating, Yvonne le Bas, H.E Ambassador Máirtín Ó Fainín, Peter Ryan and Briege Tuite.

Benefactors present were: Teresa Keating, Yvonne le Bas, Michael Quinlan, Brendan Sheehan, Jim & Fran Sweeny 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.

The Chairman also thanked the following sponsors present for their wonderful support: Kristen Bashir of Six Senses Resorts & Spas, Russell Butler of Avis, Caroline Selka of Hamilton Island Yacht Club Villas, Stephen Guthrie of ADP Prosperity Advisers, Fergus Ryan, Peter & Meg Robinson, Maureen McCarthy, Peter Ryan, Liz Tailor of Tailored Events and of course our host today Mr. David Wiadrowski and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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 Australian Ireland Fund continues to focus on Northern Ireland, where the political progress that has been made recently is momentous, with Unionists and Nationalists are now sharing Government.  But, regrettably, there continue to be outbreaks of violence, as evidenced recently on 12 July, when dissident republicans orchestrated violence in north Belfast where around 20 police officers were injured. This is still a very divided society and our work in Ireland continues to be of great importance.

The Australian Ireland Fund continues to focus on the key area of integrated education, where the magnificent gift of $1 million from Lady Mary Fairfax was supplemented with $250,000 provided from the funds of the Australian Ireland Fund, made possible by the generosity of our many supporters.  We have supported a number of integrated schools including Portadown Integrated Primary in Belfast, Drumlins Integrated Primary School in Balynahinch, Fort Hill Integrated Primary School,  Ballycastle Integrated Primary School, Rowallane Integrated College , Portaferry Integrated Primary School, Hazelwood Integrated Primary School, situated in one of the most troubled and deprived areas of Belfast, in an ‘interface’ area straddling the two communities.

The Australian Ireland Fund also continues to support a number of other activities in Northern Ireland such as 174 Trust, Speedwell Trust, NICE and Be Your Best Foundation. A short clip from the Be Your Best Foundation was shown at the luncheon where the kids and teachers involved in the programme thanked the Australian Ireland Fund. The Chairman shared with guests a part of a letter from David Beal of Be Your Best Foundation who wrote, “Thanks again for all your support over the years, I honestly don’t know that the event would still be running in Northern Ireland without the Australian Ireland Fund.”

AS well as remaining committed to these initiatives, the Fund also contributes meaningfully to local causes in Australia, which has been hospitable to so many Irish families over many generations. Going forward the Australian Ireland Fund Board has adopted as a first focus projects involving reconciliation, so that the experience learned at such a high cost in Ireland can be applied in our local Australian environment. Local causes supported include:

  • Working with the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation, headed by Mr. Andrew Penfold, to provide quality education for disadvantaged indigenous young Australians. Already we have provided a $10,000 per annum scholarship, at Marist Ashgrove, and St. Peters in Brisbane and 2 scholarships at two leading Sydney schools – Kincoppal Girls School in Rose Bay and St Catherine’s Waverley.  Drawing on the Federal Government funding of $20 million, the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation will be matching those scholarships, thus doubling the results gained from our contributions.  We will also support those young people and their schools with mentoring programs. 

  • 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.

Chairman Charles Curran AC also spoke about the exciting new initiative, the Australian Ireland Fund Young Leaders Network which aims to bring together the young Irish and Australian generations to ensure the links between our two countries continue to grow.  Acknowledge was one of the Young Leaders present, Fiona Tuite, who was also involved in the New York Young Leaders. 

Ambassador ÓFainín also provided an update to the guests on current activities in Ireland and  also thanked them for their generous and ongoing support.  

The luncheon also provided an opportunity to inform our supporters of our upcoming two events:  The Brisbane Gala Luncheon on 15 August 2010 and the Sydney Garden Party, our flagship event, which takes place on Sunday, 24th of October at the beautiful harbourside home of Lady Mary Fairfax AC.