The Scottish Diaspora and Diaspora Strategy: Insights and Lessons from Ireland

In both Scotland and Ireland sustained attention is now being given to the potential benefits which might flow from renewing and refreshing relationships with overseas diasporic populations. The objective of the report is to contribute to the development of such thinking by identifying and reflecting upon Scotland's approach to its diaspora relative to its Irish counterpart.


10.1 Scotland and Ireland have much to learn from each other with regards to how they conceive and develop their relationship with their respective diasporas. This report has documented the various schemes and policies that operate in both countries and outlined the prospective ways that relationships with diaspora can be usefully forged. Our intention has been to provide an initial starting point for further reflection and dialogue by presenting an empirically-informed platform upon which a more widely conceived diaspora strategy for Scotland can be debated and built. Our view is that any strategy for Scotland should:

  • seek to focus on the cultural as well as economic;
  • be light in touch and flexible where appropriate rather than heavily structured and over-determined;
  • be formulated to work over the long term;
  • have an open view of who constitutes the diaspora and the value of an affinity diaspora;
  • recognize that the intangible benefits of a strategy will be as important as tangible ones;
  • understand that the relationship with the diaspora has to be reciprocal for it to be sustainable.

10.2 The Scottish diaspora represents a huge potential resource for Scotland and Scotland offers the diaspora many benefits, the key to both parties success is
to grow that relationship in partnership with each other. In order to progress such a partnership we believe that further steps are required to map out what a
re-envisioned Scottish diaspora strategy might look like. These steps are:

  1. Research and formulation of potential schemes and ways forward. This report is part of that process, but further research is required including an in-depth study of best practice in countries other than Ireland.
  2. Consultation with Scottish diaspora organizations and affinity Scots, Scottish Government units and agencies, and global agencies such as the World Bank and UNESCO who have aided a number of countries formulate their strategies.
  3. The formulation of a draft, overarching diaspora strategy that sets out its basic principles, including full details on suggested schemes, their remit and operation.
  4. An open debate on the proposed diaspora strategy as a mechanism to refine the path towards creating a fruitful partnership between Scotland, its diaspora and its affinity diaspora.
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