Incidents involving Irish abroad up 22%

 

Cases of crime, illness and accidents involving Irish people abroad jumped by more than a fifth in the first half of the year, new figures show.

Irish embassies, missions overseas and the consular section at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin dealt with 660 cases since January compared to 540 in the same period in 2009 - up 22 per cent.

Officials helped in 97 incidents involving people who died in incidents ranging from plane crashes in Libya and Central America to road accidents and illnesses - down from 119 in the first six months of last year.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said staff also dealt with more than 4,000 calls in five days for help and information over the travel chaos sparked by the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull.

“Following on a very busy year in 2009, officials of my Department are again dealing with a large number of cases where our people do find themselves dealing with emergencies often with language barriers, local legal difficulties and officialdom with which they are unfamiliar,” Mr Martin said.

“In addition to the increase in cases, this year also saw my Department in the frontline in dealing with the fall out of the Icelandic ash cloud.”

The Minister said the calls over the volcano travel disruption were not included in the six month round-up, given the uniqueness of the event.

Mr Martin said that while anyone can fall victim to accidents or crime there are a number of steps to be taken to ensure travel plans pass off without incident, including getting travel insurance.

PA