‘Certificates of Irishness’ axed

A ’certificates of Irishness’ scheme set up to entice the descendants of emigrants to connect with their heritage has been scrapped after just 3,000 applications out of a 70m strong diaspora applied in four years.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed the decision yesterday, after admitting that interest was “considerably less than anticipated”.

Set up in 2011 by then tánaiste and foreign affairs minister Eamon Gilmore at a time of mass emigration, the scheme was designed to encourage a closer connection between Ireland and those who had left the country.

Those of Irish descent — but who did not qualify for citizenship — were given the right to apply for the officially-stamped certificates if they could prove their Irish ancestry and were willing to pay €40 for the privilege.

Over the next four years, 3,000 of the 70m iaspora applied for the certificates, with leading recipients including US president Barack Obama, former US president Bill Clinton, and Hollywood star Tom Cruise.

However, the scheme has also been pilloried for its alleged money-making focus, with UK-based Irish TV host Graham Norton infamously asking Cruise if he threw the certificate in the bin straight away or waited until he returned to his hotel room.

After just 179 applications for the tourist initiative were received this year, the Department of Foreign Affairs is scrapping the scheme and seeking out alternatives to promote Irish heritage abroad.

A department spokesperson argued it was “never anticipated that the Certificate of Irish Heritage would provide significant revenue to the Government”.

Anyone still interested in applying for a certificate of Irishness can do so until August 24, at which point the scheme will be closed, the spokesperson added.


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