THE legality of President Mary McAleese's official coat of arms is in doubt following the embarrassing suspension of the service.
There are also doubts over the validity of all coats of arms awarded since 1943, including those granted to former Jordan Grand Prix owner Eddie Jordan and former US presidents John F Kennedy and even Bill Clinton.
In what has been described as the new 'arms crisis', the National Library has stopped the Office of the Chief Herald from making any further awards due to concerns that it had no legal powers to do so.
The Genealogical Society of Ireland said it was a very embarrassing situation which had been allowed to develop over a long period of time.
"From our point of view we were left with a serious problem. Of course the action by the National Library was absolutely inevitable," its honorary secretary Michael Merrigan said.
He said that those affected by the suspension -- which came into effect two months ago -- not only included the coats of arms of people like President Mary McAleese but also town, city and county councils.
And although the Garda registered its logo in the patents office two years ago, its ownership rights to the Arms of the Garda College at Templemore is also under threat.
The origin of the problem dates back to the achievement of independence in 1922. The new Free State Government allowed the British Ulster King of Arms to continue issuing coats of arms at his heraldry office in Dublin. But all that changed in 1943, when the State abolished the position and set up its own Genealogical Office as a result of an agreement between Taoiseach Eamon DeValera and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
It wrongly assumed the British King's "royal prerogative" to issue coats of arms was transferred to the Irish State.
The Office of the Chief Herald proceeded to issue coats of arms over the next 50 years but the problem first began to be highlighted by the Genealogical Society more than a decade ago.
The biggest demand for coats of arms, which cost around €3,000 to obtain from the Office of the Chief Herald, came from Irish Americans. Even visiting dignitaries such as Bill Clinton, were presented with them.
In frustration at the lack of legislation, Mr Merrigan responded by drawing up a bill himself, which was actually debated in the Seanad last December. However, it was withdrawn at the request of then Arts, Sports and Tourism Minister John O'Donoghue who promised to get the National Library to examine it.