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Hundreds of Irish citizens stranded in Australia as flights are grounded

The Irish government is facing mounting pressure to develop a plan to bring stranded residents.

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Cha Cahill from Co Offaly and his girlfriend Andrea Moore (PA)

Cha Cahill from Co Offaly and his girlfriend Andrea Moore (PA)

Cha Cahill from Co Offaly and his girlfriend Andrea Moore (PA)

Hundreds of Irish citizens have been left stranded in Australia as many governments enforce strict controls on international travel.

Many have spent thousands of euros in a desperate bid to return home to Ireland, however many flights have been grounded or cancelled amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Irish government is facing mounting pressure to develop a plan to bring stranded residents living in Australia and New Zealand back to Ireland.

Many airlines have cancelled international flights at the last minute, leaving Irish people stuck in airports.

Cha Cahill, 25, from Co Offaly went to Australia with his girlfriend Andrea Moore last October to travel.

The couple are living in a hostel in Melbourne on a working holiday visa.

Mr Cahill said: “We decided we needed to get home and booked an Emirates flight to leave on Friday but we later saw a statement that the flights were cancelled.

“We spent 800 euro each on the flight. Things started happening very quickly so we chanced one more flight and spent 1,600 euro each on another flight but then got an email six hours later saying that flight was cancelled.

“We don’t have any work because everywhere is closed and we can’t get any money from the government.”

Mr Cahill set up the Facebook group “Get us home from Australia (Ireland)” to bring people together who are trying to return home.

He said: “Within an hour we had hundreds of people connected and it’s bringing a little bit of comfort to some people knowing it’s there.

“We hope to keep everyone updated with any details.”

His girlfriend Ms Moore said: “Our time here has been quite the roller coaster between bush fires, smoke, flooding and now this Covid-19.

“We booked our flights last week and were due to fly home on Friday. They were cancelled.

“Then we booked another flight for Thursday in hope it wouldn’t be cancelled in a desperate attempt to get home but we weren’t so lucky.

“We have spent 4,800 euro in total on flights alone. Now we are both unemployed and in a hostel.

“Most of our savings are gone on the flights. We are worried about how long we can financially support ourselves.

“We created the Facebook group today in hope of connecting and supporting others in our situation and hopefully highlighting the issue we are all in.”

She added: “The majority of people are worried about how they will support themselves and majority of us are unemployed now. I was in hospitality and no longer have an income.”

Cian Clack from Dublin was due to fly out of Brisbane on Tuesday night, however his flight was cancelled.

The 20-year-old is in Australia on a working holiday visa and is concerned he will not be able to return home to see his grandparents.

He added: “I’m in Brisbane living on my sister’s couch. It’s a pretty hard time – I had a flight booked for tonight but everything got cancelled without notice.

“My grandparents are quite ill at the moment even without the coronavirus.

“I just feel like I’m stuck here because I can’t get home.

“If something happened to them (grandparents), while I’m stuck here I’d honestly never ever forgive myself.

“I’m stuck in a situation where I’m living on my sister’s couch with no money and no offer to supply food or anything.

“I spent 1,400 dollars on a one-way flight ticket which is atrocious.

“I know it seems silly but I’ve had nearly every grandparent ring me crying asking when I can get home, which is absolutely heartbreaking coming from them.

“It really is breaking my heart knowing that six months ago would be the last time I’d ever see them.”

PA