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Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the welfare of Irish citizens stranded abroad

Consular, Irish abroad, Press Releases, Ireland, 2008

I am deeply conscious of the plight of the many thousands of Irish citizens who have found themselves unable to return home because of flight restrictions.  At this stage, it would appear that the situation is unlikely to change in the immediate future.

While I understand that the bulk of Irish citizens are coping with the situation, there are cases of individual hardship. I am also well aware of the huge efforts that the Irish Embassies abroad are already undertaking to assist those stranded.

However, in view of the ongoing difficult circumstances prevailing at present, I have instructed my Department to open its Consular Crisis Centre in Hainault House inDublin.

The Centre will be manned until 8.00 pm this evening and can be contacted on +353 1 4082999. It will remain open throughout the coming week and its operation will be reviewed on a regular basis.  I should stress that the Centre is there to assist those in difficulty and should only be accessed by those in genuine need.  The Department will be able to provide information and reassurance but cannot organise individual travel arrangements.

For those abroad, it is important that you keep in contact with your tour operator and with the airline which holds your booking. The Department will also regularly update Travel Advice on its own website www.dfa.ie. In addition, I would also advice citizens to register their presence on the travel registration site on the same website.

For those with genuine emergencies, should as a shortage of prescribed medical products etc., I would advise you to contact the local Irish Embassy, Consulate or Honorary Consulate, which will endeavour to assist you. If you are running out of funds, you should ask a relative or friend to transfer money through the normal commercial companies. The local Irish mission can advise in this area.

If your foreign visa is expiring shortly and you cannot leave, please contact the local Irish mission for advice or your travel agent. I would like to assure all those who find themselves stranded that the Government are acutely aware of their difficulties and will keep the position under review. We will also be liaising with our EU colleagues.

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