Record number of Irish citizens abroad sought help in 2017

More than 300 families needed help following the deaths of loved ones

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The Department of Foreign Affairs says it provided support to over 2,500 Irish citizens in distress abroad in 2017.

This involved Irish embassies and consulates assisting in situations involving missing persons, arrests and imprisonments, illness and injury.

The department adds that, sadly, more than 300 families needed help following the deaths of loved ones abroad.

This is the highest number of death cases the department has ever dealt with in a single year.

"The figures show a 21% increase in the number of cases of deaths abroad, a 13% increase in the number of Irish citizens detained abroad and a 17% increase in the number of "complex assistance cases" involving persons with mental health issues.

Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said: "Statistics show that more Irish people are travelling overseas than ever before and this presents fresh challenges for my department and our embassy network in ensuring that we continue to provide a world class service for our people across the globe."

The department also provided support to Irish people caught up in a number of major incidents overseas - including the terrorist attacks in Manchester, Barcelona, London and St Petersburg, as well as natural disasters such as the earthquake in Mexico City and Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean.

The department has also published a Consular Assistance Charter - detailing the assistance it can, and cannot, provide to Irish citizens in distress abroad.

Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Minister Coveney is reminding people to be vigilant and cautious in relation to their personal safety while travelling overseas.

"Given the increased number of major incidents aboard, I would strongly recommend that all citizens consult my department’s travel advice in advance of their trip and to be mindful of their surroundings while they are travelling."

"If any citizen finds themselves in an emergency situation abroad, they should follow the advice of local authorities and contact the nearest Irish embassy or consulate should they require any assistance."

The Tánaiste also emphasised the importance of preparing for travel and taking out comprehensive insurance.

"Anyone travelling to Europe should carry an ‘EHIC’ European Health Insurance Card and those going to any higher-risk country should register their travel details with us online.

"Those with intentions of travelling should always inform a friend or family member of their intended itinerary."

He concluded by paying a special word of tribute to Ireland’s network of honorary consulates around the world.

"We are extremely thankful for the efforts of our network of almost 100 honorary consulates in 60 countries who assist Irish citizens visiting or living in their area.

"Our honorary consulates augment the work of our embassies and consulates abroad and they provide vital frontline services to grateful Irish citizens."

Under EU law, any citizen in a non-EU country where his/her own national state has no representation is entitled to protection by the diplomatic or consular authorities of any other EU state.