The Department of Foreign Affairs chartered three planes to fly Irish people home during the Covid-19 pandemic – at a cost of nearly €900,000.
According to freedom of information files, 256 people were brought home to Ireland from Peru, India and Nigeria.
The department has helped more than 8,000 people to return to Ireland during the pandemic, with over a quarter coming from Australia or New Zealand.
They were flown on commercial flights where possible, or flights chartered by the EU and other partners.
But because of ‘exceptional circumstances’, the department chartered three planes themselves.
93 people were flown back from Peru on March 29, 68 from India on April 4, and 95 from Nigeria on May 11 – with the total cost being almost €890,000.
Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry says it was justified.
I think if you look at the locations - Lima, New Dehli and Lagos - there probably was a difficulty in securing flights from any of those countries at that time to any European base.
The department says these flights were partially co-financed by the EU, other European citizens also flew on them and all passengers are required to pay a contribution towards the cost of the flights.
The department also made a special arrangement with a commercial airline to fly 166 Irish people home from Perth in Australia at a cost of €389,000, but passengers also paid a fee.