1 January 2024
By Tom Collins
The Tánaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Micheál Martin TD recently announced that the Department of Foreign Affairs provided consular assistance to 2,043 new cases in 2023. This work is in addition to the consular support that is being provided to others on an ongoing basis.
The Tánaiste said: “My Department provides a range of help and support to citizens in distress abroad – from arrests to imprisonment, missing persons, serious injury, mental health difficulty, and sadly, death. The 2023 statistics show a consistently high level of demand for our services, including as a result of travel bans, mental health challenges and complications arising from medical and/or cosmetic procedures abroad. In response to the increasing demand for consular assistance, my Department launched an updated Consular Assistance Charter this year, which sets out clearly the support the Department can and cannot provide.”
2023 has seen new and complex crises across the globe. Supporting Irish citizens caught up in these crises has been a core element of the Department’s consular work this year. The Department proactively alerts citizens to risks they may face in particular regions and puts dedicated consular crisis responses in place, where necessary.
In April, following the outbreak of conflict in Sudan, a dedicated crisis team based in Dublin and the Irish Embassy in Nairobi was established within the Department. This team facilitated the evacuation of over 280 Irish citizens and dependents from Sudan between 15 April and 25 May.
Since 7 October, a dedicated crisis team with officers in Dublin, Tel Aviv, Ramallah and Cairo has been responding to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. The team has so far assisted 57 citizens and dependents to leave Gaza. The Department worked to secure the release of Emily Hand who was held hostage by Hamas and continues to maintain close contact with hundreds of Irish families in Israel and Lebanon. The Department of Foreign Affairs continues to advise against all travel to Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories and to Lebanon.
A number of citizens continue to enter Ukraine, with the purpose of engaging in surrogacy arrangements. The situation across Ukraine remains extremely dangerous, the Department strongly advises against all travel to Ukraine, for any purpose. The capacity of the Department to provide consular assistance in Ukraine is extremely limited.
Excluding crises related cases in Sudan and the Middle East, 2023 saw a 13% overall increase in newly-recorded consular cases (1,706 new cases), including a 12% increase in deaths of Irish citizens abroad notified to the department, compared with 2022.
Based on records, 2023 has seen the highest number of deaths of Irish citizens overseas reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs. More than one-in-five of all new consular cases in 2023 related to the death of an Irish citizen overseas. The Department was also notified of the deaths of a number of Irish citizens as a result of medical and/or cosmetic procedures abroad. The Department continues to provide Travel Advice on medical, dental, and cosmetic procedures abroad to assist citizens make an informed decision before travelling overseas to undertake such procedures.
2023 saw a significant increase in deportations (up by 80%); victims of crime (increase of 40%) and an increase of more than one-third in the numbers presenting with issues relating to their mental health and wellbeing.
TravelWise, the Department’s Travel Advice service, continues to help Irish citizens to make informed choices about trips overseas with clear and objective Travel Advice for more than 200 destinations worldwide. TravelWise is now available at Ireland.ie/travelwise
Demand for TravelWise remained high during 2023. Throughout the year, Travel Advice for almost 200 countries and territories was continually updated, receiving approximately 1 million visits throughout the year. The International Travel Unit handled over 4000 queries on international travel from the public in 2022. It also held seasonal TravelWise #KnowBeforeyYouGo summer and winter information and awareness campaigns.
Over 55,000 Irish documents were authenticated for business or personal use overseas, and over 2,890 civil letters of freedom were issued to Irish citizens marrying abroad in 2023.
The Tánaiste said: “While most people enjoy trouble-free trips abroad, it is important to prepare properly in advance of travel in 2024. I advise all Irish citizens to ensure they have a valid passport, take out travel insurance, consult our TravelWise service, and carry an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) if travelling within the EU.
“All citizens travelling abroad next year should register with the Department in advance of travel on the Citizens Registration platform and download a copy of the Department’s new Consular Assistance Charter.
“The Department’s TravelWise service provides practical advice on preparing for overseas travel, including the importance of taking out comprehensive travel insurance and advice in relation to mental health and travel, medical, dental and cosmetic procedures abroad, and local laws and customs, amongst others. Those requiring consular assistance while abroad should make contact with their nearest Embassy or Consulate or with the Consular Assistance Unit in Dublin.
“I also would like to acknowledge the invaluable support provided by our close partners, including government agencies, the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas, Crosscare, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Safe Home Ireland, and the many Irish support organisations overseas. These continue to do great work in supporting citizens and their families who experience difficult and in some cases tragic situations overseas.”
New Consular Assistance Cases
|Advance of Funds
|Transfer from Crisis
|Victims of Crime
|COVID-19 related assistance
|Total (excluding Sudan & Middle East Crises)
|Evacuation from Sudan
|Evacuation from Gaza
|Total (including Sudan & Middle East Crises)