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Thursday 28 August 2014

More than 1,500 Irish needed consular help abroad

Emma Jane Hade

Published 01/01/2014 | 02:30

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Michaella McCollum Connolly arrives at court at Sarita Colonia prison in Callao...Michaella McCollum Connolly, cuffed, arrives at court at Sarita Colonia prison in Callao December 17, 2013. McCollum Connolly, of Dungannon in Northern Ireland, and Melissa Reid (unseen), from near Glasgow in Scotland, charged in Peru with drug trafficking, are set to go on trial in Peru on Tuesday and could face up to 18 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said. The two women were arrested at Lima airport in August after 11 kg (24 lb) of cocaine worth 1.5 million pounds ($2.3 million) was found in their luggage, according to authorities.  REUTERS/Mariana Bazo (PERU - Tags: CRIME LAW DRUGS SOCIETY)...I
Michaella McCollum Connolly arrives at court at Sarita Colonia prison in Callao.

MORE than 1,500 Irish people had to call on the Department of Foreign Affairs for help after running into trouble while overseas last year.

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The largest number of citizens seeking consular assistance were in Spain -- but help was sought from dozens of countries across the globe, including Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.

The figures represent a 6.5pc increase in numbers requesting consular assistance, in comparison to 2012.

In 2013, 227 Irish people tragically died abroad, an increase of 33 from the previous year.

There were an additional 253 medical cases which required consular assistance -- an increase of 10 in comparison to 2012.

Assistance was also provided to 255 citizens who were arrested while abroad during the year.

The Department has had a busy year welcoming new Irish citizens, and so far it has registered 5,000 from foreign births. However, it expects this figure to increase by 3,000 over the coming weeks when all applications have been processed.

There was a surge in Irish couples choosing to marry and enter civil partnerships abroad this year, as the department provided over 3,000 letters of freedom -- a 12pc increase in comparison to last year.

Among the most popular destinations that couples chose to marry in were Italy, Spain and Germany.

Department staff also reported issuing more than 55,000 Irish documents -- a 10pc increase on last year. These documents, which include educational certificates and legal documents, may be required to secure employment or property.

Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore yesterday reiterated the importance of registering your intention to travel overseas with the department, as in case of emergencies or disasters, assistance can then be provided as efficiently as possible.

"Being able to contact Irish people in affected areas is vital, helping us to give immediate assistance.

"Irish diplomats can provide support and assistance to citizens and families, issue emergency travel documentation, and help liaise with local authorities, especially if there is a language barrier," he said.

CRISIS

Mr Gilmore is pleased with the work from his department throughout 2013, and is asking anyone who intends to travel abroad in the new year to register online.

"The Consular Division of the department is available and active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to help Irish people and their families, who get into difficulty abroad.

"Take note of the nearest Irish Embassy, and register online so that we can contact you in the event of a crisis or emergency," he said.

The Numbers

* More than 1,500 Irish nationals abroad required consular assistance, a 6.5pc increase on 2012.

* It is expected that 8,000 people will be registered as new Irish citizens from foreign births in 2013.

* There was a 12pc increase in couples marrying abroad, and 3,000 chose to marry in countries such as Italy and Spain.

* Some 227 Irish people died abroad, while 253 medical cases required assistance.

* And 255 were arrested, a drop of 32 from 2012.

Irish Independent

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