President Michael D. Higgins will formally open the online ‘Big Irish Echo Campfire’ at 4pm today (Friday)
In a statement, the Irish president's office said: "By bringing together Irish American advocates and activists from across the United States, the ‘Campfire’ gathering aims not only to boost spirits during the Covid-19 pandemic, but also spark a conversation about how best to bring communities in Ireland and the USA closer together in these new circumstances and into the future.
"Speakers at the event will address challenges in a wide range of sectors, including business, arts, politics, sport, heritage and tourism."
The Statement from Áras an Uachtaráin said that since being elected President of Ireland, President Higgins had made the Irish diaspora, and the related issue of migration, a key theme of his presidency.


"The President has highlighted the great resource that is the Irish diaspora, and paid tribute to the many contributions made by Irish people to the nations to which they migrated. Similarly, the President has encouraged the Irish at home and abroad to support those who find themselves seeking refuge and safety in Ireland.
In his (Campfire) address, President Higgins will reflect on 'the profound link we share with our American Irish family,' and the moral courage, innovation and resolve that will be required to craft a post-pandemic future."

The opening panel discussion will feature Ryushin Paul Haller, a Buddhist priest in San Francisco who hails from Andersonstown, and LeAnne Howe of the Choctaw Nation which famously sent aid to the starving Irish during the Great Hunger. 

The Campfire, which is set to run until midnight tonight, will also feature contributions from Big Island, Hawaii, San Diego, California and Cincinnati, Ohio. Over 600 people, the majority from Irish America, have registered for the Big Irish Echo Campfire which will feature 70 speakers.

To watch the proceedings, you can still register online via The Irish Echo.

The Irish Echo is a sister publication of the Belfast Media Group titles.