Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Staff handle 1,310 emergencies

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin warned of potentially high hospital costs abroad

Ireland's overseas consular staff handled more than 1,310 serious emergencies during the year.

Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin said assistance was given to the families of 204 people who died abroad, as well as 293 travellers who were arrested, injured in accidents or admitted to hospital.

Embassies and Consulates also responded to the earthquake in Haiti and the volcanic ash crisis, which resulted in widespread transport disruption affecting thousands of Irish citizens throughout Europe.

Mr Martin urged Irish citizens planning trips abroad in 2011 to obtain comprehensive travel insurance, including medical insurance, and take sensible precautions while overseas.

He said overseas medical and hospital costs could be very high, adding: "Failure to take out adequate insurance or lack of awareness of the specific conditions within insurance policies, can lead to considerable financial and logistical difficulties for travellers and their families should problems arise."

"The Department's statistics show a great number of Irish citizens are finding themselves in distressing situations while abroad, and travelling to ever more exotic and unusual destinations."

Mr Martin said his department's website, www.dfa.ie, provides country-specific travel advice and up-to-date details on individual countries.

"There is also a facility on the website for Irish citizens to register their travel details which enables our consular officials to contact them or their next of kin in case of a consular emergency," he continued.

Mr Martin encouraged Irish citizens to respect local laws and customs, avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and be aware that the use of drugs can and does result in death.

"At the very least, purchase or possession of drugs can result in arrest and long terms of imprisonment, sometimes in dangerous locations in distant countries," he added.

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