Consular assistance sought in over 700 cases this year

Ireland’s diplomatic staff have provided consular assistance in more than 700 serious incidents abroad this year.

The Department of Foreign Affairs described 2012 as a “very busy year” so far.

The main reason for requesting assistance from January to August was arrests, followed by deaths and welfare queries.

The department said that while lost or stolen passports are the most likely reasons consular assistance is sought, these matters are usually resolved at Irish embassies local to the specific countries and therefore not included in statistics.

Spain, Australia and the US are the top three countries where people have requested consular assistance. There were also a high number of requests from Thailand and Britain.

So far this year, there were 153 consular cases in Spain, of these 62 were arrests, 25 were deaths and 16 of a medical nature.

Australia had 112 consular cases, with 26 pertaining to welfare, 19 arrests and 15 deaths.

In the US, there were 76 cases, including 23 arrests, 10 emigration issues and 16 deaths.

Last year was also “particularly busy,” with 1,500 requests for help.

Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore said the statistics show a growing number of Irish people are finding themselves in emergency situations while abroad.

“Many accidents are preventable if people avoid unnecessary risks and reckless behaviour and issues are much more easily resolved when people travel with comprehensive travel insurance.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and our embassies abroad provide important travel advice on our website. Heeding this simple advice will help ensure your travel passes off safely and enjoyably,” he said.

The figures emerge as the department advised students planning to travel abroad to celebrate their Leaving Certificate results to be safe, behave sensibly and avoid unnecessary risks.

Anyone travelling is being advised to take out comprehensive medical and travel insurance, check passports are in date and make a note of the nearest Irish consulate or embassy.

* www.dfa.ie


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