Over 120 philanthropists from around the world gathered in Belfast to attend the Annual Conference of the Worldwide Ireland Funds. This was the first time in almost four decades that the event took place in its entirety in Northern Ireland. Delegates travelled from 22 cities in 9 countries including the US, Australia, Singapore and China. All are committed philanthropists who are already supporting the charity sector in Ireland, North and South.

Commenting, Kieran McLoughlin President and CEO of The Worldwide Ireland Funds, said “Though the Peace Process has slipped from the radar of many, our coming here represents our commitment to doing our bit to bringing it to a successful conclusion. The Peace Process is just that, a process not an event and all of us – governments, civic society and philanthropists -must remain focused on achieving a normalised society in Northern Ireland”.

In addition to announcing the winners of the Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition, the Funds also announced a gift of $1 million to Co-Operation Ireland to support its work especially in hard to reach communities. This is part of the $16 million that the Funds have distributed in grants across the island of Ireland so far this year.

Donors and supporters visited a sample of the many projects assisted by The Worldwide Ireland Funds in Northern Ireland. They included: the 174 Trust, Ardoyne Holycross Boxing Club, Cinemagic, Integrated Education Northern Ireland, the Linen Hall Library, Play Resource, Queen’s University Belfast, SOS Bus Northern Ireland, The Lyric Theatre, Young Enterprise Northern Ireland, and Young Social Innovators.

The Worldwide Ireland Funds Plenary Session discussed the Funds’ priorities and how its donors best meet ongoing need in Ireland North and South. At a Dinner held in the Titanic Centre the American Ireland Fund AWB Vincent Literary Award was presented to celebrated poet, Leontia Flynn including a €25,000 bursary.