Only 3,000 people pay €40 fee to ‘prove’ they are Irish

New figures show the number of heritage certificates issued since launch of scheme

Millions of people all over the world like to claim they have Irish roots, but perhaps not enough to stump up €40 for a certificate to prove it.

New figures reveal that 2,925 certificates of Irish heritage have been issued since they were launched in September 2011, with just 179 of them in 2015 so far.

The idea arose from the Global Irish Economic Forum at Farmleigh in 2009.

Under the scheme, which is run on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs by Kerry-based company Fexco, descendants of Irish citizens who do not themselves qualify for citizenship can be issued with a certificate.

It costs €40 for an unframed certificate and €120 for a framed one.

Some 1,042 people applied for an Irish Heritage Certificate in the first year of the scheme, which is designed to target Ireland’s estimated 60 million-strong diaspora.

A department spokeswoman said the number of certificates issued from September 2011 to date was 3,223, including 298 presentation certificates.

The total number of certificates of Irish heritage issued in 2015 to date is 194, which includes 15 presentation certificates.

Presentation certificate

A presentation certificate is one gifted by the Department of Foreign Affairs rather than one that has been applied for.

Actor Tom Cruise received a certificate from former tánaiste Eamon Gilmore in 2013.

Those who have received presentation certificates this year include Boston-born author Dennis Lehane.

An announcement on the future of the scheme will be made in the coming weeks.