Discount card plan for tourists with Irish roots

Tourists with Irish roots could be given discounts at some of the country’s top visitor attractions under a proposed scheme to rally the diaspora.

Foreigners with Irish ancestry will be eligible for a Certificate of Irish Heritage under new plans being thrashed out by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Although holding the document would not entitle someone to citizenship or other legal rights, the department has proposed that successful applicants would be issued with a small credit-card style card giving knock-down rates at tourist venues.

The scheme would be overseen by the department but run by an outside company funded by fees from the applicants.

Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin said firms were being invited to come up with ideas on how to operate the project.

“I look forward to receiving proposals from firms on how we can enable millions of people with Irish ancestry across the world renew their link with Ireland,” Mr Martin said.

“I would urge applicants to be imaginative in their plans and come up with proposals that will help us identify concrete ways to further develop the bond between Ireland and its global family.”

Currently anyone born in Ireland or born abroad with an Irish parent or grandparent can qualify for Irish citizenship.

But the department said there were many people worldwide who are of Irish descent but do not qualify for citizenship and it is envisaged the certificate would recognise those people in an official way.

Those hoping to apply will have to prove their claim to Irish ancestry, by producing documents such as a birth certificate, church records of death, marriage and baptism or land records or wills.

The programme would run on a trial basis for a year and be renewed annually thereafter up to a maximum of five years if successful.

It is estimated the diaspora consists of 70 million people across the globe.

Last September Mr Martin proposed the Global Irish Network following a three-day event at Farmleigh, bringing together some of the top minds from the Irish diaspora to help promote Ireland overseas.

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