It's a cert . . . top celebs signed up for heritage drive
A SELECT group of celebrities with Irish ancestry will be presented with new heritage certificates at a glitzy ceremony next year.
The company behind the Certificate of Irish Heritage is planning a major marketing drive to coincide with St Patrick's Day after admitting that initial uptake has been slow.
It has the potential to earn more than €1.6m, but the certificate has so far failed to capture the global imagination.
Financial services company Fexco, based in Co Kerry, won the five-year contract from the Government and applications opened at the end of September.
Fexco project manager Adrian Mulvihill told the Irish Independent this was a "soft launch" and a marketing campaign would not begin until January, focusing on Canada and the US.
He added that Fexco would work closely with government agencies in the coming months to promote the certificates abroad.
"Our goal is that, by the end of March, the vast majority of the Irish abroad will have heard of it.
"The key focus will be on the US and Canada leading up to St Patrick's week and we would definitely be hoping that a significant number of people there would at least have heard of it by then," he said.
"It's only been three weeks since it was launched."
The company plans to have a "programme of certificate presentations" next year where "key people" of Irish descent will be presented with the certificate.
The company declined to comment on just how low the uptake had been. "We would not quote the number of applications," said Mr Mulvihill.
"That information is only known by us and the Department of Foreign Affairs."
The Certificates of Irish Heritage were first mooted at the first Farmleigh Economic Forum in 2009 as a way for the Government to reach out to the diaspora abroad.
About 40 million people worldwide are eligible to apply for a certificate.
The document is signed by Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore and gives official recognition to their Irish ancestry.
All that is needed to apply is an email address, the name of an ancestor and a scanned image of identification such as a driving licence or passport.
The certificates are printed by Colorman.ie in Dublin before they are dispatched to their final locations across the globe.
Costs vary from €40 for an unframed certificate to €100 for a framed one plus shipping costs.