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Firms racing to cash in on Irish heritage certs

PLANS to start selling certificates of Irish heritage are moving faster than a leprechaun under a rainbow.

Several companies have expressed an interest in assessing who is entitled to claim they have a bit of Irish blood.

And the Herald has learned that the first certificates are likely to be issued by the end of the year.

There is no estimate of how many people will apply for certificates, but up to 70 million worldwide claim to have some Irish heritage, so the Government expects "substantial demand".

The plan was first devised during a strategic review of Ireland-US relations in March 2009.

And in April, Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin published a request on the Government's eTenders website seeking expressions of interest from suitably qualified service provider to set up the scheme.

Memento

It is proposed that the certificate will be a token memento of a person's Irishness, but may also entitle them to discounts at tourist attractions.

Mr Martin revealed: "Expressions of interest were received from a number of interested service providers and are currently under consideration."

He explained: "Those applying for certificates of Irish heritage will be required to submit comprehensive details of their Irish ancestral connections and relevant documents and certificates to show their connection with Ireland."

The certificate will give official recognition to people who have some Irish ancestry but who are not eligible for citizenship.

However, it will not offer any other legal rights or entitlements to the successful applicant. Its main aim is to attract more tourists to visit Ireland in search of their history.

kdoyle@herald.ie


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