Irish Heritage Certificate scheme a dud as Irish Americans pass on it
Just over a thousand certificates issued in first 13 months -- far below targets
However, the Irish government will press on with its Heritage Certificate scheme.
The much vaunted opportunity to prove your Irishness with an Irish Heritage Certificate has proven to be a damp squib so far.
Just 1,042 certificates have been issued across the globe despite a target audience of 60 million.
Irish Americans interviewed by IrishCentral stated the process of application with ancestral documentation need to prove eligibility was far too complicated. “I settled for a Kiss me I’m Irish T Shirt instead,” quipped on.
The poor return from the first 13 months of the scheme to prove your Irish lineage hasn’t put off its backers though.
The Irish Times newspaper reports that the Irish government has agreed to extend the contract for a second year despite the low uptake.
In an effort to boost the scheme, the rules for providing documentary evidence of Irishness have also been relaxed according to the paper.
The idea was first mooted at the Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin in 2009.
Under the scheme the descendants of Irish citizens who do not themselves qualify for Irish citizenship can be issued with a certificate at a cost of €40.
The scheme was launched in New York in September 2011 and is managed on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs Kerry-based company Fexco.
The Irish Times reports that documents released under Ireland’s Freedom of Information Act show that, at a meeting held in January, members of the Irish Abroad Unit from the department expressed disappointment at the initial figures.
The report adds: “They said it was important to look at the scheme in the context of other schemes which do take some time to spike, sometimes even a number of years.”
After frustrations with government agencies were aired by Fexco, a draft proposal was introduced to relax the requirements to provide documentary evidence of their Irish ancestry on a trial basis.
Now applicants who do not have documentary evidence can give narrative information on their ancestors instead of providing documentation.
The paper reports that of the 1,042 certificates issued to date, 57 per cent have been issued to people living in the US, 13 per cent to those living in Australia, while nine per cent relate to those in Canada.
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