Proud and grateful to be Irish


Sir, – I’m sure many readers have heard about “consular assistance” being offered to Irish citizens abroad in time of need. As a term it has a fairly mundane, routine ring to it. I have recently had experience of it first hand and can report that it is a most extraordinary phenomenon.

My daughter was one of a number of Irish students injured in a road traffic accident in a remote part of Malawi on July 20th. Because of her injuries I travelled to Malawi, where I witnessed what “consular assistance” means in real life.

Ambassador Áine Hearns and embassy staff Michael Treacy and Columba O’Dowd suspended their day jobs, gave up their weekend and put in 24 hour days dealing with the complicated logistics of managing multiple casualties simultaneously in one of the poorest countries in the world. It is almost impossible to convey the level of input that was required and provided.

I have written to you many times in the past about inequalities in the health service and how this country does not treat some of its citizens as we would like. On this occasion however, I have not just been immensely proud, but also very grateful to be an Irish citizen.

It is often said that Ireland holds a special place in the world’s affections that is disproportionate to its size. I wonder if a lot of this might be to do with the professionalism and dedication of our diplomatic missions all over the world. We should salute them. – Yours, etc,


Mulhuddart, Dublin 15.