Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Tourism, Timmy Dooley TD, has expressed his concern that as many as 15,000 ireland.com domain users are about to lose their email address.

Deputy Dooley was reacting to the announcement that the domain name ireland.com has been sold by the Irish Times to Tourism Ireland under a deal worth €495,000. From November 7th, people who had @ireland.com as part of their email address will have to change it.

“Minister Leo Varadkar needs to act to ensure that Tourism Ireland’s purchase of the ireland.com domain does not deprive customers of this valuable service,” said Deputy Dooley.

“Instead of shutting down the domain address, the service should be enhanced and promoted. The people who have been promoting Ireland through this address should not be punished, there are many benefits of @ireland.com including it being used as a service for the diaspora. This is a resource that should be expanded and used as a tool for encouraging people to come to Ireland.

“I have received correspondence from many concerned email account holders who have been told that their service will be withdrawn between now and Christmas. A number of the 15,000 customers who will lose their email account are businesses that use the address to promote Ireland or use it to drum up support for The Gathering next year.

“Surely some measure can be put in place to enable these accounts to continue. Can the Minister not advise Tourism Ireland to maintain these accounts? It is a shame that such an attractive email address will be lost.

“Many people will have business cards, stationery and contact lists affected and in the current economic circumstances, small businesses do not need this sort of expensive rebranding.

“I am calling on Minister Varadkar to act, the continued use of the domain name by 15,000 email addresses needs to be maintained. The cost would not be prohibitive and I would hope that some sort of compromise can be reached.”