Deaths of Irish people abroad reaches record high – including cosmetic procedure fatalities

Deaths of Irish people abroad reaches record high – including cosmetic procedure fatalities

MORE Irish people died while abroad in 2023 than in any other year new figures show.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin, who is Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, has confirmed that the Department of Foreign Affairs provided consular assistance to 2,043 Irish people abroad this year.

Among that number, there was a 12 per cent increase in deaths of Irish citizens abroad, 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,” the Department confirmed.

“More than one-in-five of all new consular cases in 2023 related to the death of an Irish citizen overseas,” they added.

A number of those deaths were a result of medical or cosmetic procedures undertaken 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,” they added.

Speaking as the figures were revealed, 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,” he added.

“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.”

A “core element” of the Department’s work this year has been to support Irish citizens caught up in crisis situations across the globe.

In April, following the outbreak of conflict in Sudan, a dedicated crisis team was set up, based in Dublin and at the Irish Embassy in Nairobi.

That team evacuated more than 280 Irish citizens and dependents from Sudan between April 15 and May 25.

Since October 7, a dedicated crisis team with officers in Dublin, Tel Aviv, Ramallah and Cairo has been responding to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

This team has assisted 57 citizens and dependents to leave Gaza to date, including Emily Hand, who was held hostage by Hamas.

“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,” they confirm.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs continues to advise against all travel to Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories and to Lebanon,” they add.

The Department also continues to assist Irish citizens in Ukraine – although it has confirmed that it is increasingly restricted in its ability to intervene on behalf of its people in the war-torn region.

Many prospective parents are travelling to Ukraine to complete surrogacy arrangements, despite the Irish Government’s advice no to travel there.

“A number of citizens continue to enter Ukraine, with the purpose of engaging in surrogacy arrangements,” the Department confirmed.

“The situation across Ukraine remains extremely dangerous, the Department strongly advises against all travel to Ukraine, for any purpose,” they added.

“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 an overall increase of 13 per cent in consular cases recorded by the Department.

This year also saw a “significant increase” in deportation cases, which were up by 80 per cent, and a 40 per cent increase in cases where they assisted Irish citizens who had fallen victim to crime while abroad.

There was also an increase of more than one-third in the number of citizens presenting with issues relating to their mental health and wellbeing.

This year the Department authenticated more than 55,000 Irish documents for business or personal use overseas, while over 2,890 civil letters of freedom were issued to Irish citizens marrying abroad in 2023.

The Tánaiste added: "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.

“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."