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Record number of Irish citizens in distress abroad supported by the DFAT in 2017


Record number of Irish citizens in distress abroad supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade in 2017


In 2017 the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade provided support to over 2,500 Irish citizens in distress abroad. This involved our network of Embassies and Consulates around the world assisting in situations involving missing persons, arrests and imprisonments, illness and injury.  Sadly, more than 300 families needed help following the deaths of loved ones abroad, the highest number of death cases the Department has ever dealt with in a single year.

Reflecting on the complexity and volume of consular cases dealt with by his Department in 2017, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD, said:


“The 2017 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.


“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.”   


In addition to the large and growing number of individual personal emergencies, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also provided support during 2017 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.  


Referring to the increased global terrorism and climate-related threats, the Tánaiste reminded people to be vigilant and cautious in relation to their personal safety whilst 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. The travel advice, which is constantly updated, is available from my Department’s website –  - and people should also follow our dedicated Travel Advice social media account @DFATravelwise.  A growing number of people are using my Department’s free smartphone app -TravelWise -which offers  full access to our travel advice and contact information for all of our Embassies and consulates worldwide.


“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 Travel Insurance:

“The 2017 statistics illustrate the risks for anyone travelling, so, as people begin to make travel plans for the year ahead, these serve as a timely reminder to take out comprehensive travel insurance for all trips abroad. 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.”


Tánaiste Coveney 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.”