Call to extend embassy hours to help passengers
Foreign affairs officials were urged today to keep overseas embassies open for longer to assist stranded holidaymakers.
About 300 people trying to return to Ireland phoned a consular crisis centre in Dublin yesterday seeking information on travel solutions as the flight ban continues.
Fergus O'Dowd, Fine Gael transport spokesman, called on the Government to extend opening hours of Irish embassies and consulates in countries affected by the ash cloud.
"This is a unique set of circumstances and it demands an exceptional response," he said.
Mr O'Dowd said he had received reports that passengers stranded in Spain were unable to contact the local embassy over the weekend while others have raised concerns about access to medical care.
"I am calling on the Government to extend the opening hours of embassies and consulates in all affected countries for the duration of the crisis," he said.
"Embassies should set up special hotlines to provide transport and accommodation advice."
The Department of Foreign Affairs said its consular crisis centre in Hainault House, Dublin would remain open for the rest of the week with operations regularly reviewed.