Oddly Enough

Of Irish origin? Get the proof and earn discounts

DUBLIN (Reuters) Do you have Irish ancestry? Are you travelling to Ireland soon and hoping for discounts? The Irish government may have the answer for you.

An Ireland fan holds the national flag during their Six Nations rugby union match against France at the Stade de France stadium in Saint Denis, near Paris February 13, 2010. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

The Department of Foreign Affairs has issued a tender for a company to distribute “Certificates of Irish Heritage,” which holders could display in their homes, give to their children as gifts or use to get discounts at Irish tourist attractions.

As the tender document explains, anyone born in Ireland, born to an Irish parent or with a grandparent born in Ireland can qualify for full Irish citizenship.

However, those who are just “aware they are of Irish descent and feel a strong affinity for Ireland” but are too many generations removed to get an Irish passport would appreciate a document to prove their origins, the ministry said.

Members of the Diaspora, which is estimated at 70 million, could get the certificates for an as-yet-unspecified fee.

Eligibility criteria would not be “overly cumbersome” and probably won’t require the submission of any original documents, though birth certificates, death or marriage records could be taken into consideration, the ministry said.

It said the idea had been one of the practical proposals of the “Global Irish Economic Forum” last year, a summit of CEOs and media personalities of Irish origin from around the world who brainstormed about ways of getting Ireland out of recession.

It said the proposal had received an “overwhelmingly positive response” abroad. “We should not belittle or undermine the value of this sentiment,” the ministry said in an e-mailed statement.

However, the press in Ireland was not so uniformly impressed.

“Selling a cutesy little heirloom document purporting to confirm such identity, even at a modest fee, has predatory undertones,” wrote Martina Devlin in a column for the Irish Independent newspaper.

“It puts a price on something which shouldn’t be bought or sold,” Devlin said.

She added: “What’s on offer is tawdry, tricksy and really kind of icky. Prize bulls and pedigree dogs, even cars, can be certified -- never people.”

Editing by Paul Casciato