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Irish in Spain sought most help from Foreign Affairs

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Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan

Playa Blanca, Lanzarote.

Playa Blanca, Lanzarote.

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Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan

More than 200 Irish people died abroad in the last year, with their families having to seek assistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Some 1,650 Irish citizens were assisted abroad following serious consular emergencies by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2014, with deaths, arrests, accidents, child abductions and hospitalisation amongst the chief reasons.

The highest number of cases occurred in Spain, followed by Australia, USA, Canada, Britain, France, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Portugal.

The Department provided consular assistance to the families of 217 Irish people who died abroad. Among them was Irishwoman Edel Mahady, who was killed on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 last July.

Most recently, the department also helped the family of Brendan Devenney from Mullingar, County Westmeath, who died after being found unconscious in a hotel in Mumbai, India last month.

The family of gangster Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh, killed in a shooting at a bar on the Costa del Sol bar in Spain in September 2014, also received consular assistance.

Releasing the 2014 consular statistics, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, said providing consular assistance and other consular services to Irish citizens at home and abroad was at the heart of what the Department does.

"Our staff are deeply committed to assisting Irish citizens in difficulty and to helping Irish families at home dealing with distressing situations abroad," he said.

"Ireland's diplomats stand ready to respond quickly and effectively to urgent cases and emergency situations worldwide."

However, the minister warned that Irish holidaymakers should ensure that they are adequately prepared.

"Having something go wrong on holidays can be stressful enough, without finding yourself unprepared and unable to pay for medical bills or other additional costs that may arise as a result," he said.

"By taking out suitable travel insurance before travelling, our citizens can ensure they are in the best position possible to help themselves in the unfortunate situation that something does go wrong abroad."

Meanwhile, the Department registered more than 5,500 people for Irish citizenship through Foreign Births Registration - up 10pc from the previous year, while 3,000 civil letters of freedom were issued to Irish citizens getting married abroad, with 50 applications from Irish citizens entering into a same-sex civil partnership abroad.

It also authenticated over 60,000 Irish documents such as educational certificates, legal documents and company documents to facilitate business.

The Department spent €600m on Foreign Aid, with the same amount set aside for 2015. Over 80pc of bilateral aid went to Sub-Saharan Africa.

Irish Independent