The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has reported a sharp increase in demand for its consular services in 2015.
This figure includes nearly 55,000 authentications of educational certificates and legal documents, as well as consular assistance to over 2,300 Irish citizens – including practical support to the families of 263 who lost their lives while abroad last year.
Releasing the 2015 consular statistics on 10 January, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said that the complexity of cases handles had risen in tandem with the demand.
“There was an increase in over 20 per cent in both the number of serious medical cases as well as, very sadly, the number of cases of Irish citizens who died while abroad.
“In terms of responding to major crises, 2015 saw an unprecedented level of action by department staff, who assisted over 800 Irish citizens caught up in crises abroad,” the minister added.
“The most serious tragedy occurred in Berkeley, where six students, five Irish and one Irish-American, lost their lives and a further seven Irish students were injured. We also witnessed the horrific loss of life in the terrorist attacks at Sousse, Tunisia, and injury in the later Paris atrocities.
“My department also responded to natural disasters, including the two earthquakes in Nepal.”
Minister Flanagan urged holidaymakers to regularly check travel advisories on the department’s website before going abroad, and to take out appropriate travel insurance – especially with the Uefa European Championships in France and the Olympic Games in Rio this summer.
The minister also noted the importance of the Consular Division’s work in facilitating business via its authentication services. In 2015, a total of 54,982 authentications of various types were provided.
“Many of these authentications were required by companies in order to secure business and commercial transactions abroad,” he said. “As part of our ongoing commitment to facilitating and supporting Irish business, the department continues to offer a same-day service for over 90 per cent of authentication requests.”
The new statistic also show that the department registered 5,826 people for Irish citizenship through foreign births registration in 2015.
The majority of these applications are received through embassies and consulates in the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and South Africa, reflecting the large Irish communities living in these areas.
During 2015, the department issued 2,835 Certificats de Coutume (civil letters of freedom) to Irish citizens getting married or entering civil partnerships abroad, with the five most popular countries being Italy, Spain, Portugal, Malta and Germany.