300 Irish arrested while on holidays
FOREIGN police forces arrested nearly 300 Irish people on holidays abroad last year.
In all, there were 293 arrest cases for a variety of offences, including drugs -- down from the 2009 total of 319.
The arrests were among 1,310 "serious consular emergencies" in which assistance was provided by Irish consular staff in foreign countries last year.
This figure was slightly down on the 2009 total of 1,350.
The cases involved everything from deaths, arrests (319 in 2009) and accidents to Irish people needing hospital treatment locally.
Department of Foreign Affairs officials also helped families whose loved ones died abroad during the year.
A total of 204 Irish people died on foreign soil, many on holidays, during 2010.
Department officials were also involved in helping Irish people caught up in the Haiti earthquake and the Icelandic volcanic ash crisis, which led to widespread transport disruption affecting thousands of Irish citizens throughout Europe.
Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin said his Department dealt with many requests for consular assistance in 2010 and its network of embassies and consulates were "very busy" in responding to consular emergencies.
"The department's statistics show a great number of Irish citizens are finding themselves in distressing situations while travelling abroad and travelling to ever more exotic and unusual destinations," he said.
He urged Irish people planning trips abroad to get comprehensive travel insurance, including medical insurance, and to "exercise caution and take sensible precautions".
The Department of Foreign Affairs website, www.dfa.ie, has a facility for Irish citizens to register their travel details which enables officials to contact them or their next of kin in case of a consular emergency.
Mr Martin also urged Irish people to respect local laws and customs, avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and be aware that the use of drugs can and does result in death.
"At the very least, purchase or possession of drugs can result in arrest and long terms of imprisoment, sometimes in dangerous locations in distant countries," the foreign affairs minister added.