MORE than 300 families needed help after their loved ones died overseas in 2017, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs has revealed.
This year saw a 21 per cent rise in the number of deaths abroad - the highest number of cases the Department has ever dealt with in a single year.
In total Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade provided support to more than 2,500 Irish citizens in distress abroad through its network of Embassies and Consulates in 60 countries around the world.
These also included situations involving missing people, arrests and imprisonments, illness and injury.
2017 was also a year when Irish people were caught up in a number of major incidents overseas including the terrorist attacks in Manchester, Barcelona, London and St. Petersburg as well as natural disasters such as the earthquake in Mexico City and Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean.
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, said the increasing number of Irish citizens travelling abroad was presenting new challenges for the Irish Government.
As well as an increase in the number of deaths, there was also a 13 per cent increase in the number of Irish citizens detained abroad and a 17 per cent increase in the number of assistance cases involving people with mental health issues.
“Statistics show that more Irish people are travelling overseas than ever before and this presents fresh challenges for my Department and our Embassy network in ensuring that we continue to provide a world class service for our people across the globe,” Mr Coveney said.
The Tánaiste urged people to be vigilant when travelling overseas at a time of increased terrorism and climate-related threats.
“Given the increased number of major incidents aboard, I would strongly recommend that all citizens consult my Department’s Travel Advice in advance of their trip and to be mindful of their surroundings while they are travelling," he said.
“If any citizen finds themselves in an emergency situation abroad, they should follow the advice of local authorities and contact the nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate should they require any assistance.”
"Anyone travelling to Europe should carry an ‘EHIC’ European Health Insurance Card and those going to any higher-risk country should register their travel details with us online."