Over 2018, some 2,300 Irish citizens in distress abroad received consular assistance from Irish Embassies, Consulates-General and Honorary Consuls. Consistently high numbers of Irish people have needed help in recent years as citizens travel more – and more widely – than ever before. Case officers at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin, staff at 80 embassies and consulates-general, and our 94 Honorary Consuls around the world stepped in to help in a wide variety of situations, including natural disasters, arrests, imprisonments, missing persons and serious injury. Sadly, almost 300 families required the services of the Department following the death of a loved one abroad.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney T.D., said:
“The 2018 demand reflects the growing number of Irish citizens travelling and living overseas, and the volume and complexity of consular cases that go with this. This presents fresh challenges for the Department and our embassy network in continuing to provide a world- class service for our citizens in 2019.”
In 2018, the Department and Missions also supported Irish citizens caught up in a number of major incidents overseas, including wildfires in California, Greece and Portugal, earthquakes in Indonesia, and terrorist attacks in Strasbourg and Toronto.
Referring to these crises, the Tánaiste reminded people to be vigilant in relation to their personal safety whilst travelling overseas:
“I strongly recommend that all citizens consult the Department’s travel advice before travelling. Our travel advice, which is constantly updated, is available on our website, at www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/, and via our Twitter account @DFATravelwise. Tens of thousands of people also use our free smartphone app, TravelWise, which gives access to our travel advice and contact information for all of our Embassies and consulates worldwide.”
The Tánaiste also stressed the importance of comprehensive travel insurance:
“Of course, most journeys overseas go very smoothly, but the 2018 statistics illustrate what can happen when things go wrong. As people begin to make travel plans for the year ahead, they should also plan to get comprehensive travel insurance. Anyone travelling to Europe should also carry an ‘EHIC’ European Health Insurance Card. Those going to higher-risk countries should register their travel details with us online.”
“I greatly appreciate the efforts of our network of 94 Honorary Consuls in 60 countries, and the vital assistance they give to Irish citizens. Our Honorary Consuls complement the work of our embassies and consulates-general and provide vital frontline services. I must also acknowledge the great work done by partner organisations including the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas, the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre in assisting citizens in distress.”