Scottish Connections (diaspora) work: qualitative research

Reports on findings from qualitative research looking at what successful a diaspora engagement strategy should consider and include. Provides a synthesis of existing evidence and an analysis of data from interviews and focus groups with key diaspora stakeholders.

5. Case Studies: Analysis and Findings

In this section, we describe the diaspora engagement policies of our four case study locations and identify lessons which may be applied to a Scottish diaspora strategy. We deal with each location in turn, informed by information from the respective governments, published literature, and our various interviews.


The size of the Canadian diaspora is unclear but a study carried out for Statistics Canada[42] estimates that the total could vary between 2.9 million and 5.5 million, with a 'medium number scenario' suggesting the figure is around 4.0 million in 2016. This seems to be the most up to date estimate. Around half of Canadian citizens living abroad are citizens by descent, i.e. they were born abroad to Canadian citizens. Members of the Canadian diaspora who were born in Canada make up around one-third of the diaspora, while naturalised citizens represent around 15%.

Within the UK, there are believed to be around 50,000 Canadian citizens, with around 7,000 in Scotland. A number of Canadians have travelled to other countries such as the UK because of ancestral ties, while a significant number have studied in the UK and taken up posts in teaching or the health services. Some have married UK citizens and this has led to settling in the UK. One interviewee stated:

They come [to Scotland] for various reasons and not all of them come because they have Scottish backgrounds. There are a surprising number who actually just come because they think it's a nice place to visit. You know, apart from the weather! Scotland does have a certain reputation with Canadians, whether they've a Scottish background or not. They come because they want to see what the country's like.

A number of researchers have suggested that the Canadian Government has not focused sufficient attention on its diaspora and has instead focused on the presence of other diasporas within Canada. Diaspora policy has therefore tended to focus on the integration of non-Canadian diasporas (particularly visible minorities) into Canadian society.[43] Indeed, many 'emigrants' appear to be individuals who have arrived in Canada, gained Canadian citizenship, but at a future date, returned to their home country. One of our interviewees suggested that:

A lot of people will come here and spend two or three years and then go back to where their family are.

while another stated that:

… a lot of them are just returning home and therefore don't let go of their original identity. Being Canadian is an addition rather than being Canadian as oneself.

This 'hyphenated' identity is, of course, relatively common in North America.

Issues concerning diasporas are, to an extent, devolved to the Canadian provinces but, once again, the primary focus appears to be the integration of other diasporas into Canadian society. Even in Quebec, with its engagement with Francophone countries, previous research for the Scottish Government concluded that there was no evaluation of Quebec diaspora engagement from which lessons could be drawn.[44]

Work by the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada,[45] however, challenges the notion that Canada is essentially a nation of immigrants. It argues that a greater appreciation of out migration is useful for the nation's self-image, if for no other reason than to take Canadians abroad more seriously. Similarly, Woo[46] believes that there has been a long-standing antipathy to Canadians abroad, as if by emigrating, individuals have turned their backs on the country. He suggests that there is, at last, a growing interest in the diaspora, partly because of the achievements of Canadians who have moved abroad into high profile positions (an example being Mark Carney, former Governor of the Bank of England) and partly because members of the diaspora have now been given full voting rights in Canadian elections.

That said, previous research for the Scottish Government[47] has shown that, while the Canadian diaspora is substantial, there is no policy currently available from Global Affairs Canada (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Prior to January 2021, the Prime Minister charged the Hon. Jim Carr, then Minister of International Trade Diversification, in his mandate letter to 'support the ... export mobilization of our small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This should include an examination of current programming and ensuring that Canada is maximizing the comparative advantage it holds with its vibrant diversity and diaspora communities'. In January this year, however, that department was replaced by the Ministry of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, led by Mary Ng, who had no mention of diaspora in her mandate letter. This would certainly suggest that the development of a Canadian diaspora strategy is not a current government priority.

This is not to say that diaspora networks do not exist. Global Canada, for example, is an organisation whose aim is to curate a community of 'Global Canadians' who are generally in leadership positions and who can assist in global engagement. They seek to harness what they term 'the considerable intellectual and implementation power that already exists in the country' to enhance global success. They recognise that the development of a global engagement strategy for Canada is much needed and they plan to assist government in its development. They are a non-profit organisation which is not funded by the Canadian government.[48]

There are also a number of less 'formal' groupings. The Canadian Expat Association[49] was established in 2007 and is a non-governmental community, linking all Canadians living abroad under one bilingual platform. They make the point that, until their establishment, Canadian expatriates had no collective voice. Their aims are to help Canadians to access Canadian clubs and business organisations around the world; to advise Canadians in relation to moving abroad and moving back; to help organisations with promotional activities, sometimes in collaboration with government offices; and to act in an advocacy role for Canadians abroad.

Within the UK, there is the British Association for Canadian Studies, aimed at academics; the Canada – UK Chamber of Commerce; the Canada Club, based in London; the Canadian Women's Club, with a presence in both London and Scotland; and a number of universities with active Canadian clubs, including one in Edinburgh. There are also a number of active social media groups such as Canadians in the UK and Canadians in Scotland, operating on Facebook.


The Estonian diaspora is estimated to be around 200,000 people, which is small but sizeable relative to a population within Estonia of only 1.3 million. The diaspora was formed as a result of three waves of emigration. The first, from the mid-nineteenth century until the start of the First World War, largely arose because of an increase in the country's rural population and most migrants moved to Russia to work in agriculture. The second wave of emigration coincided with the Second World War and occupation by Nazi Germany and then Russia. The third wave occurred in the late 1980s and 1990s, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, with a number of young people moving to Western Europe for greater opportunities.[50]

Prior to the restoration of Estonian independence in 1991, the diaspora had played an important role in the maintenance of Estonian culture. One interviewee told us:

I think it's very interesting how effective a force the diaspora can be, even without any government input, and that's particularly the case for Estonia, even when it was part of the former Soviet Union. The diaspora all around the world was extremely active and continued to be passionate about how it could support the stolen culture continuing in exile, and even government continuing in exile. And that was a real force that continued up until the point that the country became independent and indeed one of its first presidents was born in North America and came back to Estonia.

In those countries where there was a sizeable Estonian presence, in North America and Western Europe, a number of Estonian societies were established, with a social and cultural focus, particularly around the Estonian language. Some communities bought buildings which became 'Eesti Majas' or 'Estonian houses' and operated as social clubs.

Diaspora engagement was initially very focused on language and culture and, in 2004, the government finances the Programme for Compatriots or 'Rahvuskaaslaste Programm'. Essentially, its priorities were the teaching of Estonian abroad; the preservation of Estonian culture abroad and support for feelings of Estonian cohesion; supporting an archive of exile cultural heritage; and encouraging diaspora return. This last aim appears to have been less successful.[51] One interesting initiative was the organisation of annual summer camps for young people aged 13 to 18 years, whereby the children of Estonian expatriates could spend time in Estonia immersing themselves in the language and culture.

In recent years, the focus of diaspora engagement has become more business-orientated. In part, this is because many of those with connections to Estonia (including its network of Honorary Consuls) are involved in business. The country's strength in digital technology has encouraged investment in this area.

In 2020, the Estonian government commissioned research aimed at Estonian expatriate communities and potential returnees. This fed into a new Action Plan for the Estonian diaspora for 2022-2025, approved by the Government in November 2021. At its launch, the Estonian Foreign Minister, Eva-Maria Liimets stated:

People of Estonian origin across the world are an integral part of the development of Estonian language, culture and economy, and Estonia's future in general. This is why preserving and encouraging Estonian cultural identity across the world should be a priority for us because the greater the number of people who have connections with Estonia in one way or another, the greater the ambition of our plans. It contributes to the preservation of our people and economy, as well as to raising Estonia's profile and boosting our reputation. Estonians abroad help expand Estonia's reach.[52]

The Action Plan itself has three main approaches. The first focuses on boosting and preserving Estonian identity abroad and this would involve creating a shared information space with diaspora communities, supporting various initiatives in communities, and promoting the study of the Estonian language abroad. The shared information space builds on Estonia's reputation as being possibly the foremost digital nation in the world and the Plan aims that these spaces should be multilingual – in Estonian, English and Russian. Russian was included, as it remains the primary language of a significant number of Estonians.

The second approach involves an increased engagement of the diaspora in Estonia's public life and development, and a key part in this is engagement with young people living abroad. There has been a concern that many younger Estonians have left to seek opportunities in other countries. This firmly relates to the third approach, which centres on those returning to Estonia and helping them (re)adjust to life there. Return migration has increased, particularly from Russia, a reflection of improved standards of living and prosperity in Estonia following its accession to the European Union in 2004.

Although diaspora engagement is increasingly business focused, the Estonian language and culture remain of crucial importance. A striking example of this is the Estonian Song Festival, one of the largest choral events in the world and held every five years simultaneously with the Estonian Dance Festival. The joint choir has comprised more than 30,000 singers, performing to an audience of 80,000.

There are, therefore, a number of differences between Estonia and Scotland in terms of diaspora engagement. The Estonian approach has been much more culturally-focused, so as to preserve the language and culture, particularly throughout the period when the country was occupied. The creation of a shared information space, building on the country's digital expertise is also an important aim, while the increasing focus on return migration is also in contrast to Scotland where this has not been an explicit aim of the Scottish Government.


The size of the Flemish diaspora is not clear. There must be significant numbers of ancestral Flemings in countries such as the USA, but the current estimate of Belgians living abroad is around 600,000, of which approximately half are from Flanders. Interviewees believed that, as Flanders was a relatively small region but with important export-driven companies, it was important for Flemings to be able to move abroad to work. It was suggested to us that significant numbers then return, although some may decide to settle abroad:

Some people go abroad for retirement, to Spain and France for the sun. There are people who leave Belgium for their job. Sooner or later, they may return after a couple of years or after a career. It all depends on the region. If you move to South East Asia or Dubai, it's often a function of the job and you return. But if you move as a Belgian to Australia or New Zealand, then more often it's a life changing experience and people who move there with their family, they will not return, they will stay and their children will not learn Dutch, they will go for English and they stay. People moving to the United States, it's a good life and you can make a lot of money working, but when you become older, it's very expensive to live in the States with health insurance etcetera. So a lot of people then also return to Belgium and the European quality of life. So it all depends on the reason why you leave. We also see that the students who do their study abroad, Erasmus projects and so on, a lot of them find love abroad, and they often also stay there. And so it depends.

The ways in which Flanders engages with its diaspora have some significant differences from Scotland. In part, this reflects the constitutional position. Belgium is a federal state with three devolved governments in Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels itself. Flanders therefore has important powers in relation to both foreign and macro-economic policy and has been able to develop a foreign presence and become a diplomatic actor on the world stage.[53]

The government of Flanders has published its 'Vision 2050', depicting the Flanders it would like to see in 2050:

a social, open, resilient and international Flanders that creates prosperity and well-being in a smart, innovative and sustainable way and one where everyone counts. As an open society and an open economy, the future of Flanders is tied to development in the rest of the world. The Government of Flanders thus wishes to see Flanders more connected than ever with other countries. After all, a number of major challenges can only be effectively dealt with in an international context and via good co-operation with foreign partners. Maintaining good relations with our foreign partners is necessary for effectively promoting Flemish interests, a key task of Flemish foreign policy.[54]

The Government has a Department of Foreign Affairs and a series of diplomatic missions across Europe and elsewhere. Most significantly, the Government, in 2005, launched Flanders Investment and Trade (FIT) to support Flemish companies in their export activities, while also promoting Flanders itself as a location for investment. FIT now has around 90 offices across the world, one of which is in Edinburgh. Interviewees believed that the Flemish approach was one of quite aggressive marketing, pursued through this very extensive network of offices. Although FIT is not strictly analogous to the Scottish approach, which involves organisations such as GlobalScot or SDI, the key difference is that the FIT approach does not rely on there being a Flemish presence in the places where offices have been established.

In contrast to the interventionist approach on investment and trade, the Flemish government's engagement with the diaspora has been outsourced to an independent body, Vlamingen in de Wereld (Flanders in the World or VIW). It has a Board of Directors and a small staff team of four, based in Brussels. Most of its resources come from government funding and in 2019-20 (the most recent available figures), this amounted to €264,000. The organisation provides advice and assistance to Flemish people intending to move abroad and return, in the form of a detailed guidebook, and also has close links with employers. They hold annual events (in English) in Brussels, for human resource managers in various companies to help them develop family policies for Flemish families moving abroad to work.

VIW maintains contact with expatriates through a network of volunteer 'ambassadors' around the globe and these ambassadors keep in touch with Flemish people abroad and also help to organise various social events and celebrations, for example on the Feast Day of the Flemish Community. There are some Flemish clubs operating around the world, with one in London (Vlaamse Club London).

VIW also publishes a magazine four times a year and

it's completely in Dutch because we believe and we think that it's the culture and the language that's also part of the bond between your compatriots worldwide. Dutch or Flemish is not a large language and for the people who live here, it's important that they can speak it with their friends, with their family. And that's also one of the reasons we publish in in Dutch.

Relationships with the Flemish government appear to be close and Ministerial visits abroad will usually involve VIW helping to identify Flemish expatriates with whom to meet. VIW's focus is primarily cultural with the economic aspects of diaspora engagement the responsibility of FIT. They believe that more focus is needed to develop the cultural side of things.

The main differences between Flanders and Scotland, therefore, relate firstly to the relatively aggressive approach to trade and investment by the Flanders government with its extremely extensive network of FIT offices around the world. This is in part a result of the greater powers possessed by the Flanders government in relation to foreign affairs. And secondly, the outsourcing of diaspora engagement to an independent body (VIW), who have responsibility for maintaining links with the diaspora, providing advice and the promotion of social and cultural events.


In a speech at Trinity College, Dublin, in February 2008, the then First Minister Alex Salmond called for Scottish policy makers to study and extract lessons from the remarkable growth of the Irish economy after 1993, a growth which earned Ireland the nickname of the 'Celtic Tiger'. One of the areas which received growing attention was the relationship with the diaspora. Although the history of emigration from Ireland and Scotland was rather different, it was believed that the Irish approach to diaspora engagement was relatively successful and that Scotland could learn from it.[55] At the time, Ireland had adopted a relatively light-touch and flexible approach to diaspora engagement and this was felt to give 'ownership and freedom to its members'. Scotland's approach, in contrast, was viewed as being more muscular, state-centric and centrally managed, although the authors acknowledged that this may have reflected the fact that the Scottish diaspora was less well articulated and organised than the Irish. Thus, in being seen as a comparator for Scotland, Ireland's focus on cultural as well as economic issues, and its light touch and flexibility in diaspora engagement were seen as useful approaches for Scotland to consider.

The Irish diaspora is enormous, with around 70 million people worldwide claiming Irish descent. Of these, it was estimated in 2009 that only 3.1 million had Irish citizenship as passport holders, and a further 800,000 were Irish-born citizens living abroad.[56] The diaspora is essentially therefore an ancestral one, although interviewees stressed to us that they include the affinity diaspora within their strategy.

Ireland began fully to embrace or 'cherish' its diaspora, following a speech by the then President Mary Robinson in 1995, to which we have already referred. The importance of this was expressed in our interviews:

[The] bedrock is the fact that for most of the history of the state, emigration was constant … And I think there was always a fundamental recognition that a lot of these people didn't leave Ireland by choice. They left by force of circumstance and…They played a key role in the economic and social supports during the early years of the Irish state. And I think there is a fundamental recognition that there's a debt owed to those communities on the part of the state.

Most families within Ireland have a connection to somebody living in the diaspora, and some Irish newspapers carry news of diaspora events or information about individual Irish emigrants. In that sense, the Irish diaspora is, in many ways, a part of Irish society, whereas the same is not entirely true of Scotland.

In 2011, the then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, established the Global Diaspora Forum and the first co-hosting of the European strand took place in Dublin in 2013, recognising Ireland's place as a country with a long history of emigration and subsequent diaspora engagement.[57]

The current Irish diaspora strategy has five strategic objectives,[58] embracing:

  • 'Our People', whereby Ireland seeks to ensure that the welfare of Irish people abroad is at the heart of diaspora support;
  • 'Our Values', whereby Ireland will work with its diaspora to promote Irish values and celebrate the diversity of the diaspora;
  • 'Our Prosperity', involving the building of mutually beneficial economic ties with the diaspora;
  • 'Our Culture' with Ireland supporting aspects of Irish culture within the diaspora; and
  • 'Our Influence', in which Ireland seeks to extend its global reach.

Responsibility for diaspora engagement rests with a Minister for the Diaspora, located in the Department of Foreign Affairs. The implementation of this strategy involves a number of different elements, as follows.

The Emigrant Support Programme was established in 2004 to support the work of Irish organisations and communities around the world. Grants have ranged from small amounts for small voluntary groups to major allocations awarded to community organisations operating on a large scale. A major focus is on the front-line delivery of welfare services to Irish emigrants, including the elderly. Also of importance are grants to cultural, community and heritage projects, which foster a vibrant sense of Irish community and identity. In 2019 (the most recent data available) the amount of funding awarded was €11,954,107 for 275 projects. A further €224,125 was awarded through its 'Strategic Diaspora Project' stream to support work which extended diaspora engagement, for example to previously under-represented diaspora groups. 51% of all expenditure was in Britain, with a further 26% in the US.[59] Government interviewees suggested that the Programme had distributed around €200 million since its inception in 2004. They believed it had been very effective but they were now trying to focus more on youth-based initiatives and more cultural initiatives.

In order to recognise the importance placed by Ireland on the contribution made by the Global Irish, the Government in 2012 introduced a Presidential Distinguished Service Award. These awards are made annually and only people who live outside the island of Ireland can be nominated. Recipients must have given distinguished service to Ireland and/or its reputation abroad, contributed to, supported and engaged with Ireland and/or Irish communities abroad for at least five years, or have made a sustained and distinguished service on a global or international issue of importance. In 2019, the overall cost of the scheme was €42,000 and 12 awards were made.

An increasing number of Irish emigrants have expressed a desire to return and since 2017, the Irish Abroad Unit has had responsibility for an additional Diaspora Affairs budget to support returning emigrants. In 2019, ten projects totalling €616,422 were funded. Interviewees raised this as an increasingly important area of work:

You know, one of the big issues that we struggle with is how do we facilitate emigrants who want to return home? You know, how do we remove barriers that are stopping people from deciding to come back to Ireland, particularly those who have skills and talents we could use?

To assist with diaspora return, the Government supports a voluntary body, established in 2000, called Safe Home Ireland. This is an Irish emigrant support service that provides a range of services to more than 2,000 people each year, including an advice and information service and housing assistance to eligible applicants. Since its establishment, it has helped 2,196 people to return, of whom 75% were Irish-born.[60] It was described to us by our interviewees:

The Safe Home organisation has grown out of a lot of older Irish people wanting to return home not only in Britain but predominantly in Britain. And the organisation has really good relationships with the local authorities in Ireland and there is a small allocation of housing for those who are returning. So they work very closely with them, trying to bring people back to the communities. It's not without its challenges because obviously people have left and maybe gone to Britain or the US 50 years ago and sometimes think they're coming back to an Ireland of 50 years ago, which obviously is not always the case. But it's an organisation that do really good work. It's often being said to us that we're great at bringing people back who are successful and maybe of great economic interest. But it's nice to look after people, maybe who worked in the NHS or worked on building sites or whatever and want to come back home and spend time with their family. So it's one of those kind of unique programmes we have. We have another organisation called Crosscare[61] who would bring back people maybe who are in difficulties abroad and got separated from their family and try and help them, you know, get set up in the system. So we look after people who want to come back home, which obviously is very powerful. I think we settle a lot of people in some of the rural areas where there would be housing and the service keeps in touch with them and helps them settle back in.

Two further initiatives which have been introduced by Ireland are St Brigid's Day celebrations and The Gathering. St Brigid's Day was inaugurated in 2019 and is a programme of events taking place internationally over several days and is specifically aimed at celebrating the pioneering and creative role of Irish women in various aspects of life. It will be an annual public holiday in Ireland from 2023. The Gathering operated in a similar way to Scotland's Homecoming events, and was a tourism-led initiative, aiming to mobilise the Irish diaspora to return to Ireland during 2013. It was an initiative driven primarily by Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism development authority, and Tourism Ireland. There are discussions about holding a repeat event in 2023.

There are another two bodies involved in the area of diaspora engagement. The Ireland Funds was established in 1976 and has become one of the world's largest diaspora philanthropy organisations, generating substantial resources which have been distributed throughout the island of Ireland. It has 'chapters' in 12 countries and has raised $600 million for various causes, benefiting 3,200 organisations. Finally, the Ireland Reaching Out programme is a volunteer-based, non-profit initiative which is based on reverse genealogy. Instead of waiting for people of Irish descent to trace their roots, volunteers worldwide will network with people of Irish descent in their local areas and help to connect people with their family histories. It is an interesting organisation at a time when genealogical research is growing in importance.

Diaspora engagement is therefore driven by both economic and cultural imperatives. There has been substantial investment in Ireland's economy (particularly in the technical industries) by the diaspora but the Government recognises that, for many members of the diaspora, there is a greater interest in cultural issues. Hence, as one interviewee put it:

… one of the phrases I've often used is the importance of meeting the diaspora where they are. You know, if you go out looking for business connections, you'll only get the people who are interested in doing business. But if you meet people where they want to be met, that's where everything else reveals itself.

As a relatively small country, Ireland has a limited consular presence around the globe. In 2020, this amounted to 63 embassies, 10 consul-generals and a number of honorary consuls, making up 80 representations all together – moderate by international standards.[62] As a result, the Irish Government sometimes turns to community welfare organisations to support citizens during consular emergencies. Embassies and consulates are encouraged to build networks with such local organisations and the process has been aided by the growth of social media. In an example from Scandinavia,

We had no contact with younger generations, so we got to the point of whenever anyone walked in with a passport application, we flipped it over and checked the email address and we knew that they were transitory, young Irish folk – the young professionals who get all over the world. So we reached out across our embassies in the Nordics and we created a LinkedIn for the Irish Professionals Nordic network and it still exists to some extent.

The Irish Government is also seeking to ensure that its diaspora strategy is an inclusive one and they are reaching out to groups who were previously under-represented. These have included black or mixed-race Irish, the travelling community and the LGBTQI community. An example of this is the greater recognition given to black Irish people, following an #IamIrish exhibition in London in 2016, to embrace the collective mixed-race experience of Irish heritage in all its diversity.[63]

Summary of Issues for Consideration

The information collected from the four case studies raise a number of issues – and ideas – which may help to inform the development of a Scottish diaspora strategy and which we will expand on in the next section, with the help of information from our one-to-one interviews. Issues which have been identified and will be explored are grouped under headings, as follows:

Picturing and Understanding the Diaspora

  • There is a growing recognition in many countries that diaspora engagement is an increasingly important area of policy. This is now true even in countries like Canada, which have generally been regarded as countries of immigration rather than emigration.
  • In Ireland, with its long history of (often forced) emigration, there is a feeling that a debt is owed to its diaspora. Many, if not most, families in Ireland have relatives abroad and so the diaspora has a much greater recognition within Irish society than perhaps is the case in other countries.
  • The diaspora can play a significant role in maintaining aspects of homeland culture and language. This was clearly the case in Estonia prior to its independence. In the case of Scotland, one might see this in the cultural interests of many diaspora organisations and, indeed, in the significant number of overseas Gaelic learners.

Engaging the Diaspora

  • A key issue for any diaspora engagement programme to be effective is the availability of resources. Ireland has allocated substantial resources to its programmes, with over €12 million available in 2019 alone. It may be hard for a country like Scotland to match such a figure, but it requires consideration.
  • All diaspora engagement policies must be inclusive and Ireland is reaching out to previously under-represented groups such as black and mixed-race Irish and the LGBTQI community. They have also introduced St Brigid's Day celebrations to promote women's equality. Scotland may wish to consider similar organisations and linkage bodies.
  • The mechanisms for diaspora engagement vary. In Ireland and Estonia, it is essentially a government responsibility, located in their Departments of Foreign Affairs. But Flanders has outsourced this role to Flanders in the World (VIW) and they have built up a network of volunteer ambassadors around the globe. They also publish regular magazines as a way of keeping in touch with their diaspora. This is a significantly different model to other countries.
  • Engagement with the diaspora to enhance trade and investment is a particular strength in Flanders. Their network of around 90 Trade and Investment offices is substantial and they have not relied on a Flemish local presence before opening these offices.
  • There is a growing use of social media to allow diaspora members to engage with each other, and the growth of digital platforms to provide databases on the diaspora and diaspora organisations. Estonia perhaps leads on this as a digitally advanced nation, but Ireland and Canada have also developed social media platforms. We also understand from interviewees that the Welsh Government is establishing some form of digital networks to engage with its diaspora. This is clearly an area in which Scotland could expand.
  • Across the case studies, there was an emphasis on the importance of engaging with younger members of the diaspora. Estonia makes use of summer camps to allow younger diaspora members to immerse themselves in Estonian culture. Ireland's Emigrant Support Programme is also increasingly focused on youth-based initiatives.

Supporting and Recognising the Diaspora

  • Some of the initiatives taken in other states and sub-states have been possible because of their legislative and administrative powers, even in a sub-state such as Flanders. Any initiatives which Scotland develops, by learning from these case studies, will often clearly be limited by the constraints of the current devolution settlement and the powers available to the Scottish Government. Nonetheless, the initiatives noted have clearly borne fruit in diaspora activity and engagement for other states/sub-states.
  • Return migration is becoming significant in some countries. In the case of Estonia, this occurred following independence. In Ireland, there is support through the Diaspora Affairs budget for returning migrants, while voluntary bodies like Safe Home Ireland and Crosscare can assist returners to settle Return migration might be an important way in which Scotland could address its population challenges. Although Scotland lacks powers over immigration, this is clearly an area to be considered, in negotiation with the UK state authorities.
  • Ireland's use of its Presidential Distinguished Service Award is a way in which the contribution of individual diaspora members may be recognised and may be an initiative to be copied by Scotland.

Diaspora Initiatives

  • Genealogical research is important to the diaspora in their search for their 'roots'. In Scotland, the Scotland's People website is a valuable resource. Voluntary bodies such as Ireland Reaching Out might be encouraged to assist family historians, or diaspora organisations.
  • Scotland has held two officially supported Homecoming events, with some local events in places like Shetland. Ireland is contemplating a second Gathering, after the success of their first (influenced, no doubt, by the Scottish Homecoming events). It may be appropriate for Scotland to consider another officially supported, Scotland-wide Homecoming.



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