Embassy staff in 86 countries are working to get Irish people home

The largest repatriation of Irish citizens in the history of the State is underway according to Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney.
Embassy staff in 86 countries are working to get Irish people home
Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said money is being sent to many of the 250 different Irish welfare and community organisations around the world.

The largest repatriation of Irish citizens in the history of the State is underway according to Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney.

Embassy staff in 86 different embassies around the world are trying to get thousands of people back home.

More than 4,600 have been helped back so far but officials have been handling more than 16,000 calls for help from people stranded abroad.

Some 900 people have managed to get back from Australia in the past 10 days.

But as well as trying to get flights for them, the Government is providing cash for people who can’t get home.

The Tánaiste said money is being sent to many of the 250 different Irish welfare and community organisations around the world.

“We have an emergency relief mechanism which will help play for charter flights if we need to send them,” he said.

“But we can also provide financial assistance to Irish people who may have run out of money and can’t afford to take commercial (flights).

We are looking at increasing funding for about 250 different Irish welfare and community organisations, particularly in countries like the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.

“(They) are looking after vulnerable Irish citizens who may have become much more vulnerable because of Covid-19. If you are undocumented in the US, for example, you may not have any access to wealth support or health care support.”

He said: “We are unusual as a country with so many Irish people all over the world who need help and they are getting it.”

Most have come from Australia, America, and New Zealand.

They have been helped by department officials block-booking seats on commercial flights back to London and Dublin.

There have also been a number of “rescue missions’, including a flight from Peru and another from India.

But he said there remains clusters of Irish people “in quite vulnerable situations”.

“We will continue to work with Irish people right across the world. We will work with other European countries who are organising charter flights to get their citizens home and who can share planes with us.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke programme, he was asked if he was satisfied that anybody who wants to get home will get home.

He replied: “No — is the straight answer. There are people we know who want to come home now and don’t have commercial flights available or if they do, they may be very expensive.

"We are going to need to continue to assist them.”

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