The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that the Certificate of Irish Heritage scheme is to be discontinued.

The department said the uptake has been considerably less than anticipated and, as a result, no further certificates will be issued after 24 August.

Around 3,000 have been purchased since the introduction of the scheme in 2011.

Unframed certificates cost €45, while a framed version is available for €120.

Just over 1,000 certificates were issued in the first year of the scheme, with only around 180 issued so far in 2015.

In a statement the department said: "The Certificate was a practical expression of the importance the Government attaches to recognising people of Irish descent and encouraging people to trace their roots. 

"It was never anticipated that the Certificate of Irish Heritage would provide significant revenue to the Government."

Leading Irish American Niall O'Dowd has said he is not surprised the certificate scheme is being discontinued.

Mr O'Dowd said the scheme was poorly thought out and involved far too many different entities - public and private.

He said he had estimated the Government would be lucky to sell 5,000 of the certificates at a time when people were predicting hundreds of thousands would be purchased.

He added there was far too much work involved for people in providing their Irish roots and said it was his experience that most gave up in despair. 

Since 2011, a number of presentations of certificates have been made to well known figures such as US President Barack Obama, former US president Bill Clinton, actor Tom Cruise and British politician and former Olympian Sebastian Coe.

Despite the discontinuation of the scheme, arrangements will be put in place to allow for the presentation of Certificates of Irish Heritage to continue.

The department has not ruled out running the scheme again in the future. 

Leading Irish American Niall O'Dowd has said that he is not surprised that the Certificate of Irish Heritage scheme is being discontinued.

Mr O'Dowd said the scheme was poorly thought out and involved far too many different entities public and private.

He said he had estimated they would be lucky to sell 5,000 of the certificates at a time when people were predicting hundreds of thousands would be purchased.

He said there was far too much work involved in providing their Irish roots and said it was his experience that most gave up in despair.