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Certificate of Irish Heritage scheme to be discontinued

Culture, Irish Abroad, Press Releases, Ireland, 2015


The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade wishes to announce that the Certificate of Irish Heritage scheme is to be discontinued. The uptake of the Certificate of Irish Heritage has been considerably less than anticipated. No further Certificates will be available for purchase after 24 August 2015.

The Certificate of Irish Heritage was introduced in 2011 to recognise descendants of previous generations of Irish citizens in an official way and to give greater practical expression to the sense of Irish identity felt by many around the world.

The Certificate was a practical expression of the importance the Government attaches to recognising people of Irish descent and encouraging people to trace their roots. It was never anticipated that the Certificate of Irish Heritage would provide significant revenue to the Government.

In addition to purchased Certificates, a number of presentations have been made to well known figures such as President Obama, President Clinton, Tom Cruise and Lord Sebastian Coe. These presentations have been an important opportunity to recognise the achievements of the global Irish community, even where the connection with Ireland goes back over several generations.

Arrangements will be put in place to allow for the presentation of Certificates of Irish Heritage to continue.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is conducting further analysis on how members of the Irish Diaspora seek to assert their Irish identity. This analysis will inform any future decisions on initiatives in this area.

In the meantime, members of the Diaspora can continue to stay in touch with their Irish heritage by following @Globalirish on Twitter and signing up to our Global Irish Newsletter.


Press Office

17 August 2015

Notes to Editors:

  • FEXCO was awarded the contract to administer the Certificate of Irish Heritage following a competitive process in 2011.
  • Since its launch in 2011 approximately 3,000 certificates have been purchased.
  • In line with the provisions of the contract, FEXCO has notified the Department of its intention to end the contract with effect from 3 September 2015 - the last date for orders on the Certificate of Irish Heritage website is 24 August, 2015.
  • FEXCO is currently contacting holders of gift certificates to inform them of this deadline.
  • There has been no substantial Departmental expenditure on developing the Certificate programme. To date the Department has spent approximately €3,800 mainly related to the websites which we own (registering domains and security validation procedures etc.) as well as travel costs to meetings with FEXCO and some photographs at the launch in New York.
  • The Department is not precluded from operating this scheme in the future. However this will only be undertaken following further analysis on how the members of the large Irish Diaspora are seeking to assert their Irish identity.
  • In the interim the Department will retain the ability to produce Certificates for presentational purposes as and when required.