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'Irishness' cert plan gets the green light

A CONTROVERSIAL plan to issue "certificates of Irishness" is to go ahead.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the scheme for a certificate of Irish heritage would be unveiled within "the next few weeks".

It is aimed at up to 80 million people wordwide who are of Irish ancestry but do not qualify for an Irish passport.

When first announced, the idea drew some scepticism from genealogists, who claimed it would devalue the process of tracing the family tree.

One genealogist said the document would be meaningless without proof of a person's origins.

Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin has said the certificate, first suggested at the Global Irish Economic Forum in 2009, will go ahead.

"It will enable people who have a strong Irish connection to assert their Irishness and their heritage," he said.

The certificate would have no legal standing but would recognise the descendants of generations of Irish in an official way.

Mr Martin said there would be no cost to the taxpayer.