Poor sales amid lack of interest in 'Irishness' certs
The Government has decided to waive its share of revenues from the sale of Certificates of Irish Heritage following a poor take up of the scheme.
The initiative, which recognises the heritage of people with Irish roots, is operated by services company Fexco on behalf of the Department of the Taoiseach.
Under the contract, revenues from the sale of the certificates are supposed to be shared between the company and the Government.
But with just 2,510 certificates issued since the first one was awarded in September 2011, the department says it is waiving its portion for the time being to keep the initiative going.
Former Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore introduced the certificate as a way of allowing people express their Irish ancestry and build ties with Ireland.
A number of high-profile figures have been presented with them, including actor Tom Cruise, US President Barack Obama, former US President Bill Clinton and former British athlete Sebastian Coe.
Getting a certificate costs between €45 and €120, depending on whether it is framed or not.
Under the agreement with Fexco, the company was to get all revenues in the first year of the scheme and the money was to be shared for the following years. However, an internal department memo seem by the Irish Independent states that the Government has agreed to waive its share in years two and three of the scheme "to facilitate ongoing investment in the initiative".
In the memo, the department's Irish Abroad Unit said it was never anticipated the certificates would provide significant revenue for the Government.
However, it hopes there will be economic benefit in the longer run through increased tourism, sale of Irish goods and services and the expansion of Irish business networks.