1,200 citizens died abroad since 2007

Almost 1,200 Irish people have died while on holidays or living abroad since the start of 2007 — with 194 losing their lives in the past 12 months.

Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore confirmed the annual figures yesterday, describing each of the deaths as a tragedy.

Since the start of this year, 194 Irish people have died while abroad. These include Nicola Furlong, 21, who was murdered in Tokyo, and James Nolan, also 21, the soccer fan who drowned while in Poland supporting the Irish team at Euro 2012.

While the figure — which equates to a death almost every second day — is high, it represents a drop compared to the 204 and 200 fatalities in 2010 and 2011.

It is also lower than the 243 deaths in 2009 — a record rate which the Department of Foreign Affairs said is due in part to the fact this was the first year a new system was used to count all fatalities.

In 2007 and 2008, the number of fatalities stood at 150 and 205.

In all, since Jan 2007, a total of 1,196 Irish people have lost their lives while abroad. Among the most common locations for the deaths last year were Spain, Australia, the US, the UK, and France.

The 2012 incidents included a number of high profile deaths, chief among them was the murder of Dublin City University student Nicola Furlong, who was on an exchange programme in Japan.

The Wexford girl was killed in a Tokyo hotel in May after a night out.

Jill Meagher, 29, also lost her life in September after being attacked and raped in Melbourne, Australia, where she had set up a new life with her husband.

James Nolan, a student from Wicklow, fell into a lake in Bydgoszcz, Poland, after a night out during Euro 2012.

Galway student Gary Price, 23, died in the south-east Asian country of Laos in May after he was swept away while trying to cross the swollen Nam Song River.

Since January, Ireland’s embassies abroad have also helped 1,500 people with various issues, ranging from accidents and hospitalisations to criminal cases.

While the rate is broadly in line with previous years, the number of arrests in Australia has doubled in just 12 months — from 17 in 2011 to 34 this year.

Australia now has the second highest levels for the arrest of Irish people abroad, behind only Spain.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said a year-by-year comparison of hospitalisations and other medical incidents was not available, as these have been calculated in different ways in previous years.

However, he said that “one definite trend is the increase in consular emergencies in Australia”, reflecting emigration to the country.

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