Sinn Féin’s Niall Ó Donnghaile has this evening contacted the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney seeking urgent financial assistance for those Irish citizens overseas trying to return home as a result of the Covid19 crisis.
Speaking today, Ó Donnghaile said;
“For several days now, I have been working with many Irish citizens abroad who are trying to get home from places like Australia, New Zealand, Peru and elsewhere.
“I want to thank Embassy/Consulate staffs around the world for their invaluable help. While there are many still trying to travel, I would also like to commend Irish officials internationally for securing flights home for a number of people in the course of the last few days.
“The reality is that many who are actively trying to return home from abroad face a very uncertain process – particularly those who are holidaying/travelling, or those whose visa arrangements mean they cannot avail of social security/benefits where they currently are. This is particularly evidenced in places like Australia and New Zealand.
“As many people are understandably rushing to get home, they have booked expensive flights in the hope of doing so, only for those flights to be cancelled suddenly. The reality is they now have very limited financial resources to rely upon in a time of existing anxiety, stress and uncertainty.
“I have dealt with a number of cases where people have been forced to bring the leases on their homes to an end and even sell what little possessions, they had gathered up in to help pay for flights that have subsequently been cancelled.
“The main priority should be to get these people home; but as people’s funds run lower, I believe the Irish Government should look at an emergency fund that impacted citizens could avail of to purchase necessities and see them through until they can access a flight home. It likely makes most sense to deliver this through our existing consular structures if possible.
“Due to the numerous cancellations of flights and the complexities around insurance at an already difficult and distressing time, this fund should also extend to supporting them in purchasing urgent flights home where they are available.
“I have urged the Government to actively pursue this as an urgent and necessary initiative.
“Like many other representatives who have been dealing with people desperately trying to get home, I know it would go some considerable way in practically assisting them, as well as massively reassuring their families here at home.”